By Aloysius Low
MSI's latest ultra-portable notebook, the X-Slim X340 has been stirring up quite a buzz since it was first revealed at CeBit and you'll soon see why it has been getting all this attention. After all doesn't the sleek, white form factor of this notebook remind you of a certain brand? We managed to snag an engineering sample to give you a quick preview.
It's a Thin Line
Inevitably, the comparison with the Apple MacBook Air will be made and the best part of the X340 is that, measuring 1.98cm at its thickest point, it is pretty close to the 1.94cm on the Air. Furthermore, its weight of 1.3kg does give it the slight edge over the 1.36kg Air. The compromise however lies in the plastic chassis of the X340, which definitely feels cheap compared to the aluminum chassis of the Air.
Connectivity is a big part of the X340. In addition to its two USB 2.0 ports, a HDMI output, an analog video-out and the usual complement of audio jacks, the unit also comes with built-in WiMax for even more wireless connectivity. The WiMax option will depend on whether the supporting infrastructure is available in your area.
The Good and the Bad
No doubt our unit is an engineering sample but it felt really filmsy in our hands. The keyboard too had way too much flex for our liking and while the trackpad is spacious with plenty of room, it is a basic one that lacks the scrolling feature found on other notebooks.
The audio was also a largely muted affair, as even in a quiet room, we could barely make out the audio at full volume when playing movie trailers. The cooling fan too was noisy and irritating - at times sounding like a high-pitched blow dryer. Hopefully, the final retail version will change our minds.
The one thing we really liked about the X340 is its brilliant and bright 13.4-inch 16:9 display which features a resolution of 1366 x 768. It allows us to work comfortably without squinting at small or blurry fonts and icons.
Powered by an Intel Centrino Core 2 Solo ULV U3300 processor running at 1.2GHz, the unit was responsive during our playtime, but don't expect it to be doing stuff like gaming, video encoding or other CPU/GPU intensive tasks. What the X340 is really made for is its portability and you'll find that for the usual productivity applications and modest entertainment needs, it's more than adequate.
Given its early build, we can't comment yet on its battery life but with a low-power processor and a 4-cell battery, it should be somewhat decent.
Given its form factor, weight and relatively affordable pricing of S$1699, we think that MSI has a potential seller here for the budget conscious light traveller; provided that the problems mentioned above on this engineering sample are solved. It's still too early to say, but it's quite possible that the MSI X-Slim X340, despite looking like a notebook that borrows heavily from others, may turn out to have a place of its own.