MSI, Dell prepping Pine Trail netbooks

— 9:38 AM on December 22, 2009

Asus may have been the star of our first Pine Trail netbook review, but it's definitely not the only company adopting Intel's new Atom platform. Both Dell and MSI have now announced new netbooks with similar traits: Atom N450 processors, 10.1" displays, and long rated battery life.

Dell will put Pine Trail in a new version of the Mini 10 next month. The system will still have a 10.1", 1024x600 display, but Dell will also offer an optional 1366x768 resolution. Other, optional extras will include a GPS receiver, an HDTV tuner, and Broadcom's Crystal HD decoder. (As we noted in our review, the Atom system-on-a-chip doesn't have dedicated HD video decoding logic, so Intel recommends using third-party solutions like the Broadcom chip.)

The Mini 10 will also have 1GB of DDR2 memory, 802.11g Wi-Fi, 160GB or 250GB of storage capacity, three- or six-cell batteries, and a choice of Windows 7 Starter, Windows XP Home, or Ubuntu Linux operating systems. The six-cell battery is rated for up to 9.5 hours of run time. Dell says prices will start at $299 when the netbook becomes available in "the first part of January 2010." Shoppers will have to wait until later next quarter for some of the options to become available, though.

Meanwhile, MSI's U.S. arm has announced the Wind U135. That netbook will also come out early next year at $329.99. Specs will include a 10" 1024x600 display, 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi, a six-cell battery rated for up to 7.5 hours of run time, and Windows 7 Starter.  MSI has designed the Wind U135 with a "new raised keyboard with larger keys and a wider touchpad," which might make it more comfortable to use than previous Wind netbooks.

Interestingly, both Dell and MSI claim their new Pine Trail systems have "smudge proof" palm rests. The MSI palm rest will be glossy, while the Dell one will have a textured surface.

Update: MSI has sent us some eye candy. Check out the image gallery below for images of the Wind U135.

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