Atom-based laptop to debut in U.S. this June

Micro-Star International Co. (MSI) plans to launch Wind, an ultralow-cost laptop that runs on Intel Corp.'s Atom microprocessor, this June in the U.S., the company confirmed Friday.

The U.S. edition of Wind will come in two different versions. One will cost $549 and run Windows XP. A few things set Wind apart from competitors, including the 1.6-GHz Atom microprocessor, a larger screen size and a six-cell battery that gives it around six hours of power, according to MSI. Wind also carries an 80GB hard disk drive instead of a flash memory-based solid-state drive.

The latest version of the popular Eee PC from Asustek Computer Inc., a rival to Wind, comes with an 8.9-in. screen and up to 20GB of storage space.

The other version of Wind will use Novell Inc.'s SUSE Linux operating system and cost $399. The Linux device shares the same screen size, hard drive and microprocessor as the XP device. But it carries a three-cell battery that allows only around 2.5 hours of power and does not offer wireless data transfer using Bluetooth, which the XP device does. The Linux version also comes with less dynamic RAM and 512MB compared with 1GB for the XP laptop.

Both Wind laptops come in a variety of colors, including black, white and pink. Both can access the Internet via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and sport 1.3-megapixel Webcams and three Universal Serial Bus ports.

There will also be several hardware configurations that users can choose from that can make the laptop more or less expensive. For example, Wind can carry up to a 320GB hard drive, which would cost more.

MSI said it will market a smaller version of Wind with an 8.9-in. screen elsewhere in the world, but not in the U.S., at least not initially.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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