MSI plans next Wind mini-laptop, smaller devices

Micro-Star International (MSI) is already planning a smaller, thinner version of its popular Wind mini-laptop aimed at business people, an official from the company said Thursday.

The Taiwanese company is also planning a new mobile Internet device that’s smaller than a mini-laptop.

For its next generation Wind mini-laptop, MSI plans to reuse many of the same components as the original, including Intel’s Atom microprocessor, a power-efficient chip designed for the new class of mini-laptop PCs and mobile Internet devices. So the focus this time is on design, and beefing up some functionality so the device appeals to businesses, said Andy Tung, sales director at MSI in the U.S.

“On Intel’s roadmap, there won’t be any change in Atom until the second half of next year, so the microprocessor and chipset will be the same,” said Tung.

The new Wind laptop will likely be out in the first quarter of 2009, he said, and could be at MSI’s booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which runs Jan. 8-11 next year.

The company isn’t trying to compete with Apple’s Macbook Air to be the thinnest laptop around, but MSI will try to slim the Wind down for portability and design reasons.

MSI is also working on a concept for a device smaller than a mini-laptop to attract people who want to surf the Internet wirelessly on a device that’s easy to carry around, said Tung. Right now, the company is considering a device with a screen smaller than 7 inches and a keypad that slides out from below for typing.

MSI’s Wind was officially launched this week at Computex, part of the growing segment of mini-laptops, which have 7-inch to 10-inch screens, weigh less than 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) and connect wirelessly to the Internet.

The mini-laptop comes with a 10-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen, an 80G-byte hard disk drive and up to 2G bytes of DRAM, and connects wirelessly to the Internet via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g.

Intel declined to comment on an official time frame for an update to its Atom microprocessor.

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