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Conclusion

Having used the MSI WindPad 110W, I can understand why Windows 7 tablets have gotten a bad rap. The operating system is admittedly more clumsy to use with touch controls than Android Honeycomb or iOS, but I believe some of the hostility might be unjustified. I found the device much easier to use after increasing the DPI and icon size.

As I said when reviewing the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the docking station's keyboard was a primary selling point for me. Tablets can be used for many useful things but without the ability to connect a physical keyboard when needed they're more of a novelty item than a true "companion" device in my humble opinion -- yours may vary.

I think your perspective will largely depend on your usage habits. Devices like the iPad 2 and most Android tablets are well equipped for entertainment, social networking and other "fun" activities whereas the average Windows 7 slate (including the WindPad) have a greater role in business productivity, and I really value that.

Most of my time on a PC is spent in Word, Excel, Firefox and Thunderbird, not YouTube and Angry Birds. Again, I simply find a Windows 7 tablet to be more practical for my needs. It's better equipped for work-related tasks but it can still serve as a mobile media and social networking companion device with some simple adjustments and patience.

Microsoft's next-generation operating system should fit this role even better, seamlessly bridging the gap between desktop and mobile environments. We really liked what we saw with the Windows 8 developer preview and we've seen enough to know that Microsoft is on the right track.

We also feel compelled to mention that if you purchase the WindPad (or presumably any other Windows 7 tablet), you can do so with confidence that you'll be able to run Windows 8. We had no issues installing or using the operating system and if you are of the tinkering kind you'll no doubt buy this tablet for the sole purpose of running the Windows 8 betas until the OS goes final.

The WindPad 110W is a fairly solid product, but $600 is a steep price for a tablet even if it's in line with other Windows 7 slates. The Acer Iconia Tab W500 costs $550, it features a less power efficient processor and lacks docking support. The Atom-powered Fujitsu Stylisitic Q550 costs $700, while the ViewSonic ViewPad 10Pro is $570.

The WindPad does have a few drawbacks, including its limited battery life, plastic housing and bulky design. Despite those shortcomings, I enjoyed using the device -- perhaps more than the Asus Eee Transformer due to the aforementioned productivity reasons. The Eee Pad Transformer remains an attractive budget option at $400 nonetheless.