The Netbook Experiment is Over

After about 4 months of trying out a MSI Wind (Windows and OS X) the experiment is over. The MSI will make way for a 13″ Macbook Pro. It was an interesting test and it certainly had its pluses but in the end it turned out to be too much compromise for too little benefit.

The first hit was portability. While the netbooks are small, I don’t think I ever took mine anywhere I didn’t take my last laptop. The form factor may look compelling but in the end it simply wasn’t a ‘carry anywhere’ device. Here is a quick comparison

  • Height: Macbook 0.95 inch vs  MSI Wind 0.748-1.24″
  • Width: 12.78 vs 10.23″
  • Depth: 8.94” vs 7.08″
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs vs 2.6 lbs
  • Weight with power adapter 5lbs vs 3.3lbs

The weight is the clear win for the MSI but the +/- 2″ doesn’t really matter as much as you might imagine. By the time you back up either with the power brick and a few other bits an pieces you aren’t saving any space at all. If you include the power bricks the Macbook closes the gap by 0.2lbs and just about all the dimensional differences.

Once you get past these specs, all the others go to the Macbook (unsuprisingly). The biggest is the screen, keyboard, and the battery life. In the end the MSI wind was a casual device. Anything more than a twitter update or a short email started to become a pain. In the corners, the special characters and cursor keys are especially small so typing and correcting things like URLs was really frustrating for my hands.

Now on the cost front, the two devices couldn’t be more different. So you could argue the comparision isn’t fair on that basis. If I was happy with Windows there were a number of laptop options similar to the Macbook. They couldn’t compete with the Wind on price but both would be sub-$1000.

As a Hackintosh, the MSI was pretty much a get-what-you-payfor operation. It could run the OS capabily but things like the webcam, bluetooth, and audio was problematic. After the initial ‘interesting’ period I was more likely to go to the den and use the ‘big’ machine rather than finding the Wind.

The final measure was battery life. You buy a portable to be portable and my experience with most PC/Windows devices is they are frequently ‘tethered’ not portable. If the Macbook with the new built-in battery can delivery anywhere near the 7 hours promised that will be the biggest measure of portability. As an example – I can shave another 0.5lb off the weight difference if I can afford to leave the Macbook’s power brick at home. And the carry-weight is down to about 1lb difference from the 2lb difference between the machines themselves.

Again as a cost analysis that is a completely different matter but in the end value is driven by how much you use it.

2 thoughts on “The Netbook Experiment is Over

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