MSI aren’t known for having big distribution channels in Europe or North America so the new MSI S100 10-inch Baytrail-T tablet may not reach your local store shelves but it will be interesting to watch the price on it. We’ve spotted it, pre-sale, for 349 Euros ($384 pre-tax equiv.) MSI have chosen a 1280×800 screen resolution and have issued a strange press release. This “WinOS” tablet has “soul-shaking 3D surround sound. “ A 2MP camera “provides incredibly [sic] image quality.”
One retailer in Europe has the MSI S100-012NL up for pre-sale at 349 Euros which includes 64GB storage and the keyboard cover. Perhaps for that price we can excuse the poorly written PR?
Speaker: 1W speaker (We suspect that should be ‘speakers.’)
WIFI 802.11b/g/n + BT 4.0
Micro SD, Micro USB 2.0
Headphone port [possibly not headset]
HDMI connector (Mini)
Size: 262.2 x 173.6 x 9.8 mm
Weight:595 grams (890 grams with keyboard cover.)
If you’re happy with 1280×800 resolution, which I suspect many people might not be, and want a super-cheap, lightweight 2-in-1 then take a closer look. We’re hoping the quality is better than that of MSI’s English proof-reading.
The MSI Windpad 120W is the Cedar Trail version of the Windpad U110W – an AMD Fusion device.Â We reported on the 120W in June where it showed at IFA with a Cedar Trail 1.86Ghz CPU. We saw it at IDF a few weeks ago and it had a low-power platform inside. We had the chance to give it a few tests.
The Windpad 120W shown at IDF used the Intel Atom N2600 with 32nm CedarView-M with dual-core, 2-threads per core (contrary to specs) and 1.6Ghz clockrate. The PowerVR SGX545 graphics operates at 400Mhz and forms part of the GMA graphics unit. The TDP is 3.5W and it is coupled with a communications chip (NM10) that uses 1.5W.
We only had time to do some CPU and battery tests but in Cinebench R10 we get a good idea of the CPU performance. A multi-core result of 1507 matches Atom N550 and very closely.
The 120W comes with 2GB of RAM
And after a good 10-15 minutes of testing, we saw over 4hrs left on the battery (97%) which is an indicator of working time. Given the low TDP of the Cedar Trail platform we expect it to idle down well to add a few hours to that.
One thing we still haven’t worked out is the screen resolution although the 110W has 1280×800. If that’s the case, this could make the perfect entry-level Windows 8 tablet.
Still outstanding from Cedar Trail tests are definitive 3D graphics performance tests. We’ve seen an indication that the N2800 with the graphics clocked at 650Mhz will be twice as good as the graphics on the Pine Trail generation but remember, the N2600 graphics are clocked lower. Don’t expect anything ground-breaking here.
The MSI Windpad is finally available to order in the U.S. (as the Windpad 100W) and in Europe (as the Windpad 232W) and to me it looks like a mish-mash of a Tablet PC that aims to be an all-rounder on specifications and yet ends-up being a master of nothing.
The 10â€ screen is 1024×600 â€“ average. The capacitive screen sits on top of the mouse and pen-focused Windows 7 â€“ Mis-match. The GMA500/1.6Ghz Menlow platform isn’t the best at helping Windows 7 along. An 800gm weight is unlikely to house a battery that offers more than 4 hours. The U.S. version appears to be missing the Bluetooth module. The price isn’t exactly stunning.Â There’s only one USB port.
With an SSD, a 1.6Ghz Atom and 2GB of RAM you’d expect it to run reasonably well but Engadget reported from CES that â€œWindows 7 is seriously laggy and unresponsiveâ€ which means it could have a slow SSD set-up inside.
The differences in specs between the 100W and 232W are subtle but it looks like the EU gets the more complete tablet package with Windows Home Premium and Bluetooth included in the 232W. Oh, and we’re not sure if that docking station is included too so please check before ordering. Better still, wait for some reviews to filter through first. We’ll add them to the product page when we find them.
I’m not a big fan of 10â€ tablets myself but I do know what it makes to create a good mobile TabletPC and a good consumer tablet. The two often require different approaches that can’t be addresses in a single product. That single-product approach is what MSI appear to have attempted here.
If the Windpad drops in price, comes with the dock and proves itself through reviews then it might be worth taking a look at as a docked hot-desk solution but for other scenarios, I think there will be better solutions out there.
It makes a lot of sense for MSI to wait for the incoming ultra mobile PC platform from Intel rather than launch early with the relatively old Menlow platform and that’s exactly what they’ve gone public about today.
Oaktrail isn’t expected until 2011 but it represents quite an important redesign for Intels lowest power windows-compatable computing platform. In summary you can expect about 20% performance increase along with about 20% in-use battery life increase. Standby / screen-off battery life should increase by a larger margin. The platform also supports SATA drives and faster memory. More details on Oaktrail here.
MSI showed us the Windpad 100 back at Computex and early hands on weren’t great but MSI have had plenty time to resolve those prototype niggles and have distributed press images of the production model with its dock.
The Windpad 100 comes sporting an Intel Atom Z530 CPU running at 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, WiFi, HDMI and 2 USB ports on board with the dock adding additional connectors in the form of 2 USB ports, audio jacks, LAN, VGA, HDMI and the usual DC socket for charging.
Its a sleek design and with the dock may make a compelling package for anyone wanting the full desktop operating system experience of Windows 7. MSI will also package their own ‘Wind Touch’ overlay to help you work the 10.1 inch, multi touch capacitive display. An optional 3G model has been speculated and last we heard theÂ device itself would set you back $499 USD.
There are still a lot of questions about Window 7’s ability at being touch friendly and many have already discounted it as a viable tablet operating system, however with the right optimisations Microsoft and MSI could pull off a tablet which appeals to the masses.
MSI, the maker of some fairly well regarded netbooks, is going to be bringing the â€œWind Pad 100â€ slate to market. The keyboardless 10â€ capacitive touch unit will be powered by the Atom Z530 CPU and will have HDMI out, presumably for 720p video output to an HDTV. The MSI product manager says that the MSI Wind Pad 100 will be available â€œlater this yearâ€ for $499, according to Engadget.
Sadly, the device will be running Windows 7 with an ugly tack-on touch interface which is sure to not be any more useful than the Origami ultra mobile PC software once was. Engadget is already saying the following about the â€œWind Touchâ€ UI:
Our biggest concern about the tablet comes down to speed. We noticed it taking a few seconds for applications to launch, and the Wind Touch UI was incredibly sluggish. Speaking of the UI, it’s just a basic skin on top of Windows and is clearly still being tweaked.
I couldn’t tell you exactly why MSI (or anyone for that matter) thinks that slates running Windows 7 will be even the slightest bit consumer friendly. MSI (and again, anyone else) will not be able to provide a good computing experience with an interface that just sits on top of Windows.
Some might say MSI is mad to try and get tablet news out there right now but I think otherwise. There’s a huge wave of new tablet-focused customers searching and learning today so it makes sense to try and get news and images out.
Digitimes is helping them out today with news that their tablet, a Nvidia Tegra2-based device seen running Android with a 10″ colour touchscreen in the image above, will be out in the second half of 2010 for a price of about $500. Clearly MSI are a long way away from any formal commitment saying only that they will have different models based on customer demand.
Simply buy an MSI WInd netbook in the next 3 weeks (in Germany) and you can send a form in to receive one of 7 possible ‘presents’ including a grill and a grill-set. Are they shifting stock or trying to sell to the laggards? If it’s the latter then we could be seeing the end of the netbook-rush sooner than we think.
Welcome to this week’s netbook roundup. In this space every Monday I’ll highlight netbook news items that might not need their own individual posts but may still be interesting.
9 Cell Acer Aspire One battery good for nearly 9 hours â€“ If you are looking for an ugly, but effective super-battery, one has become available for the Acer Aspire One. These are third party batteries, but could give you one hour of run-time per cell (that’s 9 hours, for the math challenged).
Eee PC 701 with a multitouch display â€“ Video â€“ A short video from eee-pc.de that shows an Asus Eee 701 with a capacitive multi-touch capable screen. Windows 7 is on the 701 in the video providing the software for the multi-touch demo.
You probably caught wind (corny and probably overused, I know) of MSI’s latest U120 [Portal page] netbook, but you may not have seen a prototype at CES with a glowing trackpad. I’m not quite sure who this is supposed to appeal to, but we can at least be happy knowing that, as far as I can tell, this isn’t actually part of the U120 yet. I’ve always hated superfluous LEDs on notebooks, and this light-up trackpad is taking it just one step to far.
If they are going to make something glow, why not have a backlit keyboard? On a regular laptop, the screen is often large enough to provide the necessary light for typing in low-light situations. I haven’t found this to be true in my netbook experience. Unless you tilt to screen to shine on the keyboard (putting it at an unrealistic viewing angle) there often isn’t enough light on the keys. A backlit keyboard on a netbook might actually have some use.
The first MSI wind was considered to be one of the better netbooks out there. MSI might not be Asus in terms of new netbook announcements, but they certainly didn’t slack off when it comes to churning out an improved model. The MSI Wind U120 [Portal page], as you might recall, features (among other things) a new hybrid storage system that uses an SSD and HDD, a-la Sony VAIO TT. Engadget has a hands-on gallery from CES 09′. Take a look at some of the shots below, and head through the Engadget link for additional images.
Ben reported on the new MSI netbooks recently [Not your standard cookie-cutter specs] and highlighted that MSI will use the Z530 and Poulsbo chipset, the Menlow platform, originally designed for MIDs, and not the existing netbook platform. They aren’t the first netbook devices we’ve heard about that will use this platform as the Dell Mini 12 is already out there using it but it could be that we see a lot more of these as it offers an interesting marketing possibility at a time when netbook manufacturers are trying to make their products stand out from the crowd.
LaptopMag recently interviewed MSI and asked about their decision to use the Menlow platform. The answer gives us some clues.
Why would MSI use Menlow? Part of the answer comes from MSI in the LaptopMag interview:
“Now we are going to come out with the U110 and the U115. These are similar to the past systems in size and will look like the original Wind but they utilize the Intel Atom â€œMenlowâ€ processor â€“ the Atom Z530.
The U110 and the U115 will be out in late January.Â The biggest difference between these two models is their battery life. With the U110, we will deliver 8 hours of computing time; and 10 hours with the U115. Both will use a 6-cell battery.”
So it looks like the 1.6Ghz Menlow platform is attractive because of battery life. Not surprising as it offers a lower idle power and lower in-use power. Battery life is a very important differentiator. Menlow’s hardware video decoding (1080p using H.264) can be used to differentiate too but here’s something that is more interesting and you probably won’t hear any product manager talk about it in these terms. The Menlow platform goes up to 1.8Ghz and CPU speed is about the best differentiator a marketing group could hope for. In netbook quantities, I wouldn’t expect any noticeable difference in the price either. $20 at the till maybe. When your average netbook customer is standing with a Saturday sales rep. in the local electronics store and has a choice between a a Samsung NC10 at 1.6Ghz and an MSI Wind at 1.8ghz, for the same price, which one is the customer more likely to go for?
If this process works, if sales figures indicate a preference for 1.8Ghz, expect either a clock boost on the N270 CPU (which is likely of course) or, for the higher-end of the netbook market and the ultra portable notebook market, a lot more action with Menlow in 2009. From where we are sitting, it looks like Menlow could eat into even more of the traditional laptop market but if it’s a net gain for Intel, they won’t complain!