MSI, the makers of the much vaunted U100 'Wind' netbook, have announced a new version of the machine featuring both an SSD drive and a conventional hard disk.
According to MSI, the U115 is the first netbook released to combine the two types of storage in a single machine. Users can choose to run Windows from the SSD (solid-state drive), while reserving the HDD for file storage, a configuration that the company claims maximises performance while minimising power drain.
The company has not specified the expected battery life under real world conditions, but this 'eco on' mode will look attractive given the U115's modest 3-cell battery .
In almost every other way, the new model is much like a refresh of the old one, with the standard 1.6GHz Atom N270 chip running Windows XP, an LED-based 10 inch screen, 1GB of RAM, and 802.11n WiFi. The storage comes in two options, an 8Gb SSD paired with a 120GB 2.5 inch HDD, or a 16GB SSD and a 160GB HDD.
As curious as MSI's hybrid storage design might be, it is typical of the creativity that the whole netbook phenomenon seems to have prompted from vendors in the previously stodgy notebook market. The lesser names of the market seem particularly determined to reinvent the laptop in a new guise, one based around greater portability, better battery life, and lower cost.
For established vendors used to selling laptops costing at least US$1,000 (£700) this market shift must seem unnerving.
Pricing for the U115 has not been announced though when the machine is shown at the forthcoming Consumer electronics Show 9CES) it is likely to be on par with the launch price for the original u100 Wind.