A compact semi-ultraportable with an impressive battery life
Reasonable battery life
Needs additional memory
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MSI is a Tawanese manufacturer with an increasing portfolio of laptops and the PR210 (£699 inc. VAT) is their latest semi-lightweight solution. The compact chassis is made from plastic, with a reasonable amount of magnesium-alloy used on the rear of the lid to protect the back of the Super-TFT panel and to add a little more rigidity to the casing.
Weighing in at 2.1kg, this is a light machine to carry around and meets this weight due to the use of a 12.1-inch widescreen panel. We found we needed to turn the brightness close to full to get the best contrast from the screen, but it had an even tone and images looked sharp, if not crisp. Above the panel is a 1.3-megapixel webcam which is fixed, so can't be rotated to take snaps of others.
AMD now owns graphic chip manufacturer ATi and uses one of its integrated chipsets, the ATi Radeon Xpress, 1270 as part of the graphics sub-system. This chip is on a par with Intel's latest offering, providing reasonable power for basic tasks, but you won't be able to run games or edit video using this chip.
When it came to using the machine out and about, we managed to get a little over four hours of life from the MSI, which is as good as you'll find from any machine of this size. However, the battery pack does protrude from the rear of the unit, which can be an advantage as it slightly raises the back of the laptop, making it easier to type. However, it does leave the battery pack exposed to damage should you drop the laptop.
The PR210 does not use an Intel-based processor and chipset. Instead, you'll find an AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile chip handling processing. This is a dual-core chip, but isn't AMD's latest design. That said, it's still a relatively powerful chip. The keyboard spans the width of the chassis and is of a good size. The keys are firmly mounted and, while it's not the smoothest of keyboards on test, it offers good value for money.
The mouse buttons are rather small, but are solid and have a Biometric fingerprint scanner located between them. Security is enhanced by the addition of a TMP chip. Shipping with Windows Vista Home Premium and with only 1024MB of memory in the system, we found it loaded slowly. This machine needs a memory upgrade if it is to be put to its full potential.
The MSI PR210 may not be the most instantly appealing laptop on the market, but we used it out and about for a couple of days and found the mixture of light weight and long battery life made it a real asset.
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