With a 17-inch screen, spacious controls and a dedicated graphics card, the MSI VR705 is a multimedia centre aimed at the home user.
The 17-inch screen is this machine's best point, proving bright and sharp. The glossy coating helps to add vibrancy to colours, although it does also result in more prominent reflections.
The resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels creates plenty of space onscreen, so you'll be able to easily work with multiple windows open. Being one of the largest screens here, it's also ideal for movie playback or photo editing.
The Nvidia GeForce 8200M G graphics card offers better 3D performance than most other laptops at this price point, even proving powerful enough to play entry-level games. It also copes fine with demanding multimedia applications and tasks, and is more than capable for everyday use.
BENCHMARK MACHINE: Samsung Q45
Unfortunately, the keyboard severely lets this machine down. The entire board flexes under the lightest pressure, and it's also one of the noisiest laptops to type on. Some of the keys are also half-sized, which can make it tricky to type at speed. MSI has managed to squeeze in a dedicated numeric keypad, however.
The plastics used for the chassis fall below the standards set by its rivals, again flexing under light pressure. Ventilation is managed efficiently, however, with the palm rest remaining cool even after long periods of use. Weighing in at 3.2kg, this is a machine for the home only, and we found it too large and heavy to use regularly when commuting.
With a dual-core Pentium processor in place, the MSI struggles to perform as impressively as its peers when running daily office tasks, suffering from lag when running more intensive applications. That said, the inclusion of 3072MB of memory does make multi-tasking a possibility. Battery life also falls behind that of the other laptops, lasting for just 146 minutes when away from a power point.
Feature-wise, the VR705 is better equipped. The 250GB hard drive offers reasonable storage space, there's a dual-layer multi-format DVD rewriter for backing up your files, and there's also a 3-in-1 memory card reader.
An HDMI port lets you connect a high-definition TV, and there's also an analogue VGA port for older displays. Gigabit Ethernet offers fast fixed connections to networks, but the Wi-Fi adapter isn't as cutting-edge as its rivals.
Overall, it's impossible to recommend the MSI VR705 over some of the other laptops around. The large screen and good multimedia performance will appeal to some, but it's severely let down by the poor quality materials and the worst keyboard we have used in some time.
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