MSI showed us the UK models of its new X-Slim series today. There are only two problems with the MacBook Air wanabees; firstly the price, secondly the terrible keyboard.
The 13.4-inch X340 flagship costs £859 but only has near-netbook specs rather like the Sony P-Series announced at CES.
That's not good, even if it features the more powerful Intel Core2 Solo ULV SU350 low-voltage processor running on an Intel Centrino platform (so integrated graphics).
A Z530 1.6GHz Intel Atom is featured in the lower-priced £659 X320.
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So prices are high. Then there's the keyboard. It's really very spongy and has no definite feel to it. If you're typing a whole document, it will drive you up the wall. And, for an otherwise very solid portable, it's a definite surprise.
X-Slim still a competitor to MacBook Air
But putting those caveats aside, the 1.3kg X-Slim Series is an admirable attempt at a MacBook Air competitor. Even the underside – traditionally a sticker-ground for PC manufacturers – looks far better and the unit is very thin at 6.6mm thinnest, 19.8mm thickest.
As we noted from the dummy we spied at the Las Vegas CES in January, the feel of the laptop is excellent and is an admirable competitor to the MacBook in terms of the feel of the chassis.
The 16:9 display is a first for a 13.4-inch model, according to MSI.
There's also Windows Vista Home Premium – a welcome addition opposed to other netbook options – while the LED backlit screen gives a 30 per cent power saving. Screen resolution is set at 1366x768. The lithium polymer battery is four cell, with the option of an eight cell.
Other differences between the models are few; the X340 also features an HDMI port, unlike the X320. The X340 we saw had 2GB of memory like the X320, though this is upgradeable to 4GB. Hard drive size is 250GB on the X320 and 320GB on the X340.
Both are available in white, black and silver, have a two year collect and return warranty and have two USB ports.
There's no getting around the fundamental that both the X340 and X320 do have rather hefty price points and, despite their diminutive dimensions, will find many agog at the grunt they have to offer for the price - especially when ultraportable fully featured notebooks are available for less outlay.
Both models will be available in June.
MSI X-SLIM X340: The black version of the netbook alongside the optional external Blu-ray drive