The UK computer-store chain PC World is claiming to be the first retail outlet in the country to offer a netbook using Intel's Atom processor.
The Advent 4211, a close relative of the MSI Wind, went on sale on Friday for £280 — around £60 to £70 cheaper than the Wind will be when it becomes available.
PC World's machine, also manufactured by MSI, comes only in a Windows XP flavour and has a 10.2-inch screen. It has a gigabyte of RAM, a built-in 1.3-megapixel webcam and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. It uses an 80GB hard drive and a three-cell, 2200mAh battery.
These specifications tally with the Wind, but there are three key differences: the 4211 comes with YouCam webcam software preinstalled for easy uploading to YouTube; drive-based recovery for reinstalling Windows, if necessary, without needing an optical drive to do so; and the ability to create a recovery USB stick or memory card so Windows can be reinstalled even if the hard drive needs to be replaced.
"Netbooks are heralding a new era of mobile computing," said PC World's trading director, Jeremy Fennell. "The accessibility to the internet and portability of netbooks has seen extremely strong pre-sales through PC World online. The practicality of netbooks will no doubt see their continued growth and see them integrated into business and social lifestyles."
Fennell said netbooks — a term initially promoted by Intel to identify low-cost, low-performance, ultraportable laptops, and epitomised by the Asus Eee — are "far more convenient [than notebooks] when on the move and provide a full range of viewing functions required while out of the office or home, while the PC or laptop remains the prime storage hub for files and data." He added: "We are telling our staff and customers that the best way to think of them is: netbooks are for viewing; notebooks are for doing."
All major laptop manufacturers are producing netbook-style laptops, prompted by the unexpected success of the Eee. Intel's Atom processor is a new design of x86 chip, intended to provide desktop performance at a couple of watts.