First off, I love my MSI Wind U100. It was easily one of the best purchases I made last year, because even though it isn’t a do-it-all mobile powerhouse, it plays back HD video stunningly, it runs ZSNES, it boots in under a minute, it runs Windows XP, what more could you ask for? Well, Bluetooth for one thing.
I went to Best Buy on a cloudy Saturday morning near the end of last January, intent on buying a netbook. I went straight over to the Asus EEE PC display, expecting to buy one on the spot, no questions asked, however, of the three EEE display units, the first one wouldn’t turn on, the second was extremely slow (probably because it was loaded down with Best Buy’s demoware), and the third shut off a few minutes after I unplugged it from AC power. I asked one of the employees if there was anything better, and they showed me an HP with a solid state drive, but way back in January of 09 SSD’s were expensive and extremely low capacity (8gb? Good for an iPod I guess, but not for a computer.) So finally the store employee showed me the MSI Wind U100, with a whopping 160GB HDD, 3 hours of battery life, B and G Wi-Fi, and what appeared to be Bluetooth capabilities. For only $249, it was a better deal than anything else on the shelf, so I ended up getting it. When I unboxed it, I smiled as I looked it over, there were all the lights on the side… Power, the three locks (cap, num, scroll), power indicators, wireless, and Bluetooth.
So after a while of messing around with all that this great machine could do, I decided to see if I could hook it up to my Samsung SGH-D807 and transfer some tunes. The manual said to press the wireless button a few times in rapid succession to turn on Bluetooth, but all it seemed to do was flash the wireless light. At that time there weren’t any posts in the forum that could help me, so I was pretty confused. My Documents folder on the Wind had a “Bluetooth Transfers” folder in it, the device manager found a Bluetooth device on the system even, but I couldn’t activate it. I kept getting weird errors, and things were just not working.
Do you not see Bluetooth clearly listed here? It’s in the device manager, and it states that it is “working properly.” But oh no, what’s this? Where is it working? We’ve got an unknown location, here! This is certainly suspicious. I was stumped… that is until I recommended this very same model of netbook to my friend Kevin. He bought it and was extremely impressed, and one day he brought it into school with him and I took a look. His U100 had a 9-hour battery, a case, and if you pressed the wireless button twice, the Bluetooth lit up like no big deal. He bought his at Best Buy as well! Why is my machine so less capable? I tried to figure it out, and realized in the end that he had paid $50 more for his netbook than I had for mine. I hadn’t known of the existence of another model, but I guess MSI made two versions, one that was underpowered like mine, and the other which was the full U100 at the time, but used the exact same case, software, and manual in both versions. Here I was lead to believe that the machine I was buying had Bluetooth, but instead I find out my machine just had an empty LED spot that will never light up, and software for a Bluetooth device which isn’t actually present in my system. It’s false advertising! Imagine if Microsoft did this in the different Windows editions, making all the options screens the same as in Windows 7 Ultimate. Take the Starter edition, for example, which doesn’t have Aero. Suppose when you went into display properties, the Aero option was available, but when you tried to enable it it just gave you weird unexplained errors. Or you tried to launch Bit Locker or configure Home Premium as an RDP server and you got a blue screen or it unexpectedly quit. Microsoft could never get away with that.
In the end, I went to the forums a month or so later and found out that Bluetooth is an optional feature, and that if you didn’t see a Bluetooth MAC address on the box you didn’t have it. Best Buy advertised Bluetooth on the sticker, though, and you don’t really see the box until you ask an employee to go grab one out of the back room, and by that point unless you’ve done some prior research and know to look for a Bluetooth sticker, who’s going to know to check the box for a MAC sticker?
It’s frustrating, but it’s life.