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MSI U110 Eco: Netbook with ATI Graphics

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 7 comments

MSI is kicking netbook performance up a notch.

With the netbook phenomenon still in full swing, consumers want the best bang for their buck. This "bang" usually translates to maximum battery life as well decent performance when it comes to multimedia. While playing FarCry 2 on a netbook won't be a reality anytime soon, many potential netbook buyers want HD-capable products in a small form factor. Many manufacturers are catching on to this, and MSI is no different.

MSI unveiled its latest netbook offering today in the Wind U110 Eco. While this newest iteration of the Wind maintains the looks of a run of the mill netbook, MSI has made a few adjustments that should please any mobile user. The Eco starts with many components we expect in a netbook; from its Intel Atom processor to the 1 GB of DDR2 RAM (max of 2 GB) to its 160 GB hard drive, the Eco is hard to separate from the pack at first glance. What makes the U110 Eco so intriguing is its graphics muscle. MSI pairs an Atom Z530 (1.6 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB cache), with a discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD3200 GPU on an Intel Poulsbo US15W chipset.

While the Poulsbo chipset is usually found in smaller mobile Internet devices (MIDs), the HD3200 is a staple among both desktops and notebooks for integrated graphics power. The HD3200 from ATI should be able to handle any sort of HD playback, and it's more powerful than any Intel IGP currently available. Again, don't expect the Eco to satiate your gaming appetite, but watching HD content should be a breeze.

MSI claims the Eco will run for up to nine hours on a single battery charge. However, the spec sheet lists the battery as a 3-cell, making such a lengthy running time dubious. As for the rest of the laptop, the Eco also has a 10-inch, 1024x600 LED-backlit display, a choice of 1.3 or 2 megapixel webcams, Bluetooth, Wireless N, and a 4-in-1 card reader. As for the operating system, MSI plans on offering consumers a choice between Windows XP Home and Vista Home Basic.

As for size, the U110 Eco is no different from other Wind netbooks. The Eco measures 10.24 x 7.09-inches, and has a maximum thickness of 1.24-inches. Expect a weight of about 2.3 pounds, battery included. While the U110 Eco maintains the same size of previous models, MSI claims the Eco has its biggest netbook keyboard ever, as well as a larger trackpad. Judging from the pictures, MSI didn't skimp on the space bar size, and placed the trackpad directly under the spacebar, making for smooth and efficient typing.

There is no word on price or availability yet, but expect the Eco to arrive somewhere in between $400-$500. With ATI graphics and a supposed nine hours of battery life, the Eco will likely be in the upper echelon of the netbook ecosystem.

Display 7 Comments.
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  • 1 Hide
    jacobdrj , March 16, 2009 5:30 PM
    If the battery life claim hold somewhere in the realm of 'truth', this would be quite the accomplishment!
  • 2 Hide
    thedipper , March 16, 2009 5:33 PM
    It's about time. AMD graphics and chipsets are not only low power consumption, but they're also damn powerful. I think "780g" is all one must say.
  • -4 Hide
    falchard , March 16, 2009 8:38 PM
    Cost is too much. You can get a real laptop for $400~$500.
  • 1 Hide
    w4ffles , March 16, 2009 9:23 PM
    falchardCost is too much. You can get a real laptop for $400~$500.

    Show me a $500 laptop that can run 6-9 hours on a single charge while surfing the web or watching movies.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 17, 2009 2:36 AM
    there have been other netbooks and umpc's/MIDs created with the poulsbo chipset. But what I heard is that the poulsbo chipset is a slightly downtrimmed GMA945 chipset, on a smaller die.
    It has only little support,and also appears to be pretty buggy!
    That's why most companies avoided the chipset.

    9 hours idle time could very well be upto 4,5 hours of running a program,or 3-4hours running a 3D game.
  • -1 Hide
    tenaciousleydead , March 17, 2009 4:41 AM
    Unless the HD3200 is a complete strain on the battery, I highly doubt you would get less than 6 hours just running programs. Most laptops under 700 do not have dedicated graphics and utilize Intel's gma 4500, which is slower and cannot decode 1080p movies. This is definitely a step up, I just wish Intel had more support for the Ion platform (who knows when or if well see it).
  • -1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , March 17, 2009 5:36 PM
    Very interesting. The mobile 780G should definitely be better than any Intel graphics chip out there, let's see how it does against Ion.