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The Never-ending (Gadget) Story… the Advent 4211

Although I act and talk at times seemingly to the contrary, I know deep down there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ on this world we inhabit. My Macbook’s pretty great though, so I have high expectations when it comes to finding something suitable in the recently defined ‘Netbook‘ category. :-p

First of all, like many, I was enchanted by the Asus Eee 701/4G. It’s extremely small form factor and amazing portability blew me away. After a few weeks, however, the 7-inch screen started to feel a little small; I was having to constantly scroll sideways on most websites. So I sold it, in anticipation of Intel Atom-powered devices on the horizon. Originally, I was holding out for the Asus Eee 901, but that looks like it won’t be here for a while and will cost too much. Then I saw the MSI Wind. Perfect! I thought. But again, slightly too expensive (£330) and not out yet.

Enter the Advent 4211. Available NOW in the UK from PC World. It’s basically a re-branded MSI Wind with the 3-cell rather than the 6-cell battery. The deal clincher for me was the price: £279.99 – only £30 more than my Eee (once I’d added extra storage, RAM, etc.)

It’s not white and sexy, but it’s not unattractive in black and silver. It comes with a 1.6Ghz Atom processor, 1GB RAM, Bluetooth, 802.11g wi-fi and a rather nice 10-inch screen. Much as the Macbook’s glossy screen looks amazing, it’s not much use when sitting outside. The Advent 4211’s screen doesn’t suffer from that problem, thankfully – seeing as I shall be using it in the garden quite a lot in the summer!

My next issue was Windows XP. Whilst it’s (marginally) better than Vista, I don’t like it at all. Using an external DVD-writer, I tried installing Ubuntu Linux on it – but no dice. I couldn’t even get to the installation screen! Then, after reading some articles on the Internet, I tried installing Mac OSX on it. Eventually, I succeeded! However, it kept going on an endless configuration loop and I then read that the wi-fi card in the Advent 4211 isn’t supported. :-(

As OpenSUSE shall be an option on the MSI Wind, I thought I’d try that next. However, I had issues downloading the .iso file from the website via my school’s connection. Somewhat in desperation, therefore, (and still on mobile broadband, remember) I bought PC Plus magazine as they had the latest version of Fedora Core (v9) on the cover DVD-ROM.

Although there were a few error messages whilst installing, and a rather scary-looking kernel error upon first boot, everything’s running fine now. It’s really a rather wonderful operating system – mobile broadband was trivial to set up, and it actually recognises a Netbook 10-inch screen as one of the options within the display settings! Once I’d done a system update the kernel error message went away and the suspend and hibernate functionality started working properly. I still haven’t got wi-fi working yet, but I should imagine that’s just a matter of time.

All in all, as I said to @iusher when he called me for some advice yesterday, I’d recommend the Advent 4211. It’s only slightly bigger in form factor than the Asus Eee (see pic), yet has a decent size screen and packs a punch processor-wise! :-D

Comparison of Asus Eee 701, Advent 4211 & Macbook dimensions

Please feel free to ask me any questions about the Advent 4211/MSI Wind. I always make sure that I research things thoroughly before purchase and am more than happy to help others do the same. :-)

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36 Comments

  1. Sorry Doug, I’m always at a loss as to why people use these smaller machines. Is it purely so that you can carry it round with you? If that’s so, can you not just do that with your MacBook? Why would you need a ‘NetBook’?

    • Hi Jimmy,

      I *could* carry around my Macbook, but it’s only reasonably light, not
      ultralight. Also, it’s not as small as something I can just take anywhere.
      My context is that I teach lessons in classrooms other than my own. I
      therefore take it to do the register, etc. I suppose you have to start
      using one to realise… :-)

  2. Sorry Doug, I'm always at a loss as to why people use these smaller machines. Is it purely so that you can carry it round with you? If that's so, can you not just do that with your MacBook? Why would you need a 'NetBook'?

  3. have you had any trouble with the webcam? I bought an advent 4211 today and cannot get the webcam to turn on at all. I understand I have to press fn + f6 but no response

  4. Hi Jimmy,I *could* carry around my Macbook, but it's only reasonably light, notultralight. Also, it's not as small as something I can just take anywhere.My context is that I teach lessons in classrooms other than my own. Itherefore take it to do the register, etc. I suppose you have to startusing one to realise… :-)

  5. have you had any trouble with the webcam? I bought an advent 4211 today and cannot get the webcam to turn on at all. I understand I have to press fn + f6 but no response

    • hey try going in to the youcam thing first and registering my can wasn’t working before i did this

  6. hello have you upgraded the ram on the ‘vent and if so do you know what spec it is i have got 1 brand new and its really great, especially the the resolution, no more side to side scrolling!!! :p
    thanks in advance
    marks

  7. hello have you upgraded the ram on the 'vent and if so do you know what spec it is i have got 1 brand new and its really great, especially the the resolution, no more side to side scrolling!!! :p thanks in advance marks

  8. hey try going in to the youcam thing first and registering my can wasn't working before i did this

  9. On MSIWind.net site there are a lot of comments on Wifi connection problems. It would be useful to see how you get on

    • As I added with the update at the bottom of the blog post, I’ve gone back to Windows XP for the time being. I’m sure we’ll have an easy-to-use Kalyway-based OSX install disk soon anyway. Either that or Ubuntu Netbook edition!

  10. On MSIWind.net site there are a lot of comments on Wifi connection problems. It would be useful to see how you get on

  11. This obsession with the small and need to tinker is most amusing. Now you’ve got less functionality than when you started! It’s like being accustomed to a BMW and then deciding that what you really need is a Fiat Panda but you don’t like the interior decor. So you rip it all out and replace it, only to find that the windscreen is no longer see through – what IS the point of a netbook without, er, net access? And after all that, you’ve STILL got a small, ergonomically-challenged, machine, now with net curtains. Fabulous!

    • Indeed. And it’s not the first time I’ve managed to make something less useful. I’ve got Windows XP back on it for the time being…

      • Good for you sir. Confession. I bought a 4211 as a cheap, portable alternative to my current laptop. However, although cheap, I realised it was a backward step. ‘Less’ of everything in every way (the Fiat Panda scenario), especially the screen having got used to 1400×1050. So back it went and my search continues. I guess it all comes down to what you actually need it for (other than ‘cos it’s new and shiny).

    • Hi, is the machine capable of running MS Ofiice and Itunes? These along with the net are key for me.. and the fact I can plug in my sexy 320gb portable drive.. should have no problems right?

      • Yes, Rob – no problems running Office or iTunes. It’s to all intents and purposes as quick as a ‘normal’ laptop under average use. :-)

  12. This obsession with the small and need to tinker is most amusing. Now you've got less functionality than when you started! It's like being accustomed to a BMW and then deciding that what you really need is a Fiat Panda but you don't like the interior decor. So you rip it all out and replace it, only to find that the windscreen is no longer see through – what IS the point of a netbook without, er, net access? And after all that, you've STILL got a small, ergonomically-challenged, machine, now with net curtains. Fabulous!

  13. Hi, is the machine capable of running MS Ofiice and Itunes? These along with the net are key for me.. and the fact I can plug in my sexy 320gb portable drive.. should have no problems right?

  14. As I added with the update at the bottom of the blog post, I've gone back to Windows XP for the time being. I'm sure we'll have an easy-to-use Kalyway-based OSX install disk soon anyway. Either that or Ubuntu Netbook edition!

  15. Indeed. And it's not the first time I've managed to make something less useful. I've got Windows XP back on it for the time being…

  16. I still think that the old 12″ PowerBook was about the most perfect form factor for a truly portable laptop. I’ve had a class set for five years and they are still going strong. Compared to current machines, they look a bit chunky now, but if they were still making them, imagine how slim and sleek they would now be…

    • You’re probably right. I had one for a short time and found it very portable. My Netbook is even *more* portable and definitely more powerful though. Would love to get OSX on it eventually!

  17. I still think that the old 12″ PowerBook was about the most perfect form factor for a truly portable laptop. I've had a class set for five years and they are still going strong. Compared to current machines, they look a bit chunky now, but if they were still making them, imagine how slim and sleek they would now be…

  18. Yes, Rob – no problems running Office or iTunes. It's to all intents and purposes as quick as a 'normal' laptop under average use. :-)

  19. You're probably right. I had one for a short time and found it very portable. My Netbook is even *more* portable and definitely more powerful though. Would love to get OSX on it eventually!

  20. Good for you sir. Confession. I bought a 4211 as a cheap, portable alternative to my current laptop. However, although cheap, I realised it was a backward step. 'Less' of everything in every way (the Fiat Panda scenario), especially the screen having got used to 1400×1050. So back it went and my search continues. I guess it all comes down to what you actually need it for (other than 'cos it's new and shiny).

  21. I give up! On my second 4211 now and still the same wifi problem :( Its such a shame as I love this laptop. What shall i try next

  22. I give up! On my second 4211 now and still the same wifi problem :( Its such a shame as I love this laptop. What shall i try next

  23. “I tried installing Ubuntu Linux on it– but no dice.”

    Hmm that’s strange as I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on it fine and managed to get everything working quite easily with some tinkering here and there, flashing the BIOS to a new version might fix that and have you tried any other Ubuntu based distributions such as Linux mint http://www.linuxmint.com and if your a Mac lover you can always skin it out with Mac4Lin http://sourceforge.net/projects/mac4lin.

    I was also thinking of installing Hackint0sh on my advent 4211 and I would much appreciate any wisdom and advice you might have to do this.

    :-)

  24. Hi,

    I have a problem with my advent, When you turn it on the display shows nothing.What do i do with it.

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