There's not much to pick between the Wind U200 and other Wind laptops. The shape, colours and side profile are all very similar.
The main difference in design is the full size keyboard included in this 12in model, and in the screen, which not only has a higher resolution than the smaller netbook versions of the Wind, but also has an edge to edge glass panel that make the screen appear larger, and the U200 look more attractive as a result.
The build quality is solid and sturdy, and it refused to bend to pressure applied to the screen and lid, wrist rests or any other part of the laptop. The hinges have an extra bounce in them that allows for flex without flimsiness, too.
It may seem hard to get excited about yet another Wind, even if the Wind is one of the best performing netbook series around.
CPU and performance
But the MSI Wind U200 is not a netbook. Instead, it's a CULV - consumer ultra low voltage - laptop. What that means in theory is that the U200 has higher performance while still retaining a long battery life. But how does CULV shape up in practice?
CULV laptops run a gamut of processors, starting with the Celeron 753, and ranging through to Core 2 Duo models. The energy and performance specifications of the Core 2 processors are a significant improvement over previous ultra low voltage processors.But how do they compare to the Atom?
The first noticeable difference is with our performance benchmarks. The Wind has always been one of the higher performing netbooks, with scores for all around the 0.4 mark. The CULV U3500 processor - the lowest specification Core 2 Solo - boosts the Wind U200 to a speedier 0.56. That's a 20% speed increase over the U115, and it's on a larger model, to boot.
The other advantage of CULV is that it is no longer bound by Microsoft's limitations on low powered systems. So the Wind U200 has 2GB RAM to go with its 32-bit copy of Windows 7 home Premium, though the hard drive is still the netbook-standard 160GB.
The screen resolution for the 12in screen has been bumped up to 1366 x 768. That's the same resolution as the HP Envy 15in laptop. While that's more an issue with the Envy than it is a strong advantage of the Wind U200, the resolution is perfect for a 12in screen, and provides decent real estate without the fonts feeling cramped and squeezy. The screen itself is good, and comparable to the other CULV laptops on test this issue.
Battery Life and keyboard
When it comes to battery life, the CULV Wind doesn't perform as spectacularly as the Atom-based Wind models. That's not entirely surprising, given that the processor has double the power consumption. On our light use battery test the U200 managed 6hrs and 15mins, two hours less than the Acer Travelmate 8000, but still plenty.
The keyboard sports bigger keys than previous Wind models, and they are responsive but feel slightly odd, almost as though they are too big.
Ultimately, choosing a CULV Wind over a netbook Wind is about the size. The final retail version uses an SU41100 processor with slightly less performance but potentially longer battery life. Either way,it's very desirable as a cheap and functional all-day laptop.