Battle of the netbooks

Before you permanently ditch your desktop, consider the comparisons of these five models we road tested.

2 of 5
MSI Wind U100
MSI Wind U100
Price*: $399.99

Looks: Elegant and simple, the MSI Wind is the Zen master of netbooks. At 2.6 pounds, it's also the lightest of these mini-laptops. But its plastic case feels a bit slight.

Keyboard: The keys are a bit wee, but they are springy and responsive, enabling easy touch-typing. The touch pad is small but effective, and the mouse buttons are a breeze to depress.

Screen: Video looks great on this 10-inch LED, but the audio is tinny and anemic.

Battery life: 1 hour, 39 minutes (3-cell battery)

Bottom line: Solid components, elegant design, and a comfy keyboard and touch pad put this netbook near the top. Its anemic battery life keeps it from advancing further, however.

NEXT: Acer One Aspire
Last updated May 05 2009: 11:04 AM ET
*Configuration as tested

How we did it: We picked five popular netbooks with similar hardware configurations and used them for Web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, file downloads, word processing, and photo editing. To test battery life, we turned off all power-saving features, pushed the screen brightness to 100 percent, and looped a movie in full screen with audio turned up halfway and Wi-Fi networking on.
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