MSI X-Slim X340 Ultraportable Review

Written by Tim Smalley

May 21, 2009 // 1:29 p.m.

Tags: #134in #2 #battery-life #core #culv #evaluation #laptop #notebook #performance #portable #review #solo #x340 #x-slim

Companies: #intel #msi #test #ultra

Features & Build Quality

The X-Slim X340 measures just 19.8mm at its thickest point, meaning it’s marginally thicker than the MacBook Air, but the Mac’s design means that it gets progressively thinner as you get closer to the leading edge.

The MSI, in comparison, has a much more aggressive taper towards nothingness – the X340’s base looks much flatter than the Air’s overall, even though the dimensions would suggest otherwise.

It makes up for its slightly fatter appearance when the two have a battle on the scales though, as it weighs just 1.3kg compared to the Air’s 1.38kg. A quick glance over the X340’s marketing material reveals MSI has obviously caught onto this fact – you can probably guess the X-Slim X340’s marketing slogan...

Yes, it’s “lighter than Air”.
MSI X-Slim X340 13.4in ultra portable Features & Build Quality
Slim it might be, we do have to say the X340 looked a lot more impressive when we first laid eyes on the white version at CES in January – the black version we were sent for review feels as if it's made from a mish-mash of materials because the both the screen and bezel have a glossy finish, while the wrist rest has a different finish. It’s not exactly matte, as it still attracts finger prints, but it’s not glossy either.

The combination looks a little awkward when the X-Slim X340 is in use – the two tone white version doesn’t have this problem though because the screen and bezel remain the same while the black wrist rest is substituted for a white version. The white version doesn’t attract finger prints in quite the same way either, although it will undoubtedly show up dirt and marks.

MSI X-Slim X340 13.4in ultra portable Features & Build Quality MSI X-Slim X340 13.4in ultra portable Features & Build Quality

Regardless of colour, build quality is reasonably good – picking the X340 up by the corner causes very little creaking or bending, which is a surprise considering its plastic construction. It’s not without its problems though – the biggest annoyance wasn't the fact the screen flexes under pressure, but that it wobbles quite a bit if you give the machine a gentle shake.

Speaking of the screen, it’s another transreflective panel and there’s no option to switch to a matte version. The good news though is that it’s a 16:9 display with a spacious 1,366 x 768 native pixel grid. It’s a decent quality screen too, as horizontal viewing angles, overall brightness, colour reproduction and contrast are all pretty good – there’s also no obvious backlight bleed, either. The vertical viewing angles aren’t quite as stellar though and we found ourselves having to adjust the screen to ensure we were looking head on at it.

MSI X-Slim X340 13.4in ultra portable Features & Build Quality MSI X-Slim X340 13.4in ultra portable Features & Build Quality

Should you want to increase the amount of desktop real-estate, MSI has conveniently provided both HDMI and D-SUB connections, although only one can be used at a time and D-SUB takes priority over HDMI. In addition to that, the X340’s connectivity options include a couple of USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, a Gigabit Ethernet socket and a media card reader that supports SD, SDHC and MMC formats. This is an area where the X340 frankly trounces the Air, which features just a single USB 2.0 connector, mini DisplayPort and a headphone jack – it was one of the biggest failings on the MacBook Air’s part and it kills its appeal for many.
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