Hands on Use
After all the testing is done, I get to play with the machine and see how it works in the real world. I like the bigger screen and keyboard that the MSI Wind U230-040US offers. A keyboard and screen this large isn't something that you typically see in the netbook market, so it's nice for a change to get some extra space with the same performance as a smaller machine.
The keyboard MSI uses is a bit odd and takes some getting used to. I very much dislike when a company takes your typical keys like the right shift key and makes them smaller to accommodate the up arrow. MSI did that with the MSI Wind U230-040US and this is my single biggest issue with this netbook. The smaller size of the shift key meant that I often missed the shift key while typing and that gets annoying very quick. You can certainly get used to the smaller right shift key, but I am a big believer in the "don't make me think" design method. I think most computer users would rather see the arrow keys in a different position than have a smaller right shift key. Other than the strange shift key, the machine is very nice. The keyboard has nice typing feel and tactile feedback and is comfortable to type on.
Like most computers on the market, the glossy screen has lots of glare, but provides for good colors and image quality. The MSI Wind U230-040US has an AMD GPU inside that is mediocre at HD video playback. If you watch a HD video on Hulu in full screen, the video is noticeably laggy with stutters and stops frequently. Watching the video in windowed mode is a bit smoother, but it still has more chop to it than is enjoyable. That means while you can output HD video to your big screen with HDMI out, the stuttering in the video makes it hard to enjoy the program you are watching.
The sound system of the MSI Wind U230-040US is about what you expect from a netbook. There is enough volume to hear clearly without wearing headphones if you desire. The sound quality is average with this netbook, which is to say flat and it has no bass to speak of. The track pad is like the keyboard and takes a bit of getting used to. The buttons are set slightly below the level of the surrounding palm rest. I missed the track pad buttons a few times and found myself trying to click the slightly raised area around the buttons on the palm rest. Other than that, the buttons are positioned well and the track pad has the accuracy that you expect.