The third nettop to pass through our labs is the MSI Wind Top. While the name may raise a puzzled smile, the large 18in screen comes clad in a classy transparent and brushed aluminium frame, so it demands to be taken seriously.

It's pitched up against two smaller rivals, the Eee Top and the Shuttle X5000TA, and weighs in as the most expensive of the trio. At £550 it's not only £150 more than an Eee Top, it's also more expensive than a base Mac Mini, which means its going to have to work hard to come anywhere near being crowned king of the compact computers.

Netbook innards

The Wind Top offers a minor CPU upgrade over the Eee Top, and comes with a DVD drive built in. So while you won't be watching anything in HD on the screen – which doesn't have the pixels for it anyway – at least you have a bit more freedom to use it for watching movies in optical formats.

The screen isn't just big either; it's reasonably high quality too. Viewing angles are good for a TN panel, and it's bright and sharp. There's slight graininess from the touch sensitive overlay, but only if you're looking for it.

The overall quality is such that of all the nettops currently available, it's the Wind that makes us finally believe that, just lots of people have a TV in every room, pretty soon having a PC in every part of the house won't mark you out as a hardcore geek.

Easy to use

The touchscreen itself is good enough that you can throw away the mouse that MSI bundles with the AE1900 without opening it.

It's a little sticky for dragging files across the desktop, but is responsive to human fingers and doesn't show up grease smears too badly either. There's a decent and surprisingly accurate on-screen keyboard too.

The crowning glory, though, is the skin that's layered on top of Windows XP. Large, animated, easily stabbable icons for all installed programs are divided into four groups – Work, Fun, Tools and Web – so that you won't need to go through the Start menu at all.

It's a little frustrating that the only setting not easily accessed is the Wi-Fi wizard, though, especially as the Wind's only major flaw is that it struggled to connect to our router.

Having said that, we're not going to give the Wind the full five stars. While it's not in the Sony Vaio P Series league of overcharging for an Atom-based machine, it is still too much for what it actually is. Fingers crossed that it starts getting discounted soon.


Stuff says... 

MSI Wind Top AE1900 review

Exactly what a nettop should be, in every respect but the price