MSI X-Slim X420

The MSI X-Slim X420 belongs to MSI’s new line of ultra-portable laptops that are powered by CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage) processors. Intended for basic computing, these laptops are slim, stylish and easy to carry. The X-Slim X420 is a 14-inch stylish laptop that should suffice for office applications and connectivity on the move.

Design and build quality
It’s mainly the light weight and overall design of this laptop that will attract most users. Weighing merely 1.88 Kg and measuring less than an inch in thickness, the X-Slim X420 is unlikely to give you sore shoulders when you’re on the move. In terms of looks, it has a brown color-scheme, where the lid is dark (like coffee beans), and the wrist rest and the area around the keyboard has a much lighter tone—more like a light-gold tint. The entire unit follows an all-glossy theme and looks quite attractive. The subtle horizontal lines all over add to the sober yet stylish look.

As far as the build quality is concerned, the machine is rugged and boasts a rock solid chassis, something that’s rather uncommon in ultra-portable laptops. Even the screen is well-built, except that the hinges are slightly unstable which makes the screen dangle back and forth a bit, when moving the laptop. All-in-all, there’s very little to really complain about.

Hardware and features
When it comes to hardware, the only striking features are the CULV processor and discrete graphics. Built around the Intel GS45 chipset, the laptop is powered by an Intel Pentium SU4100 processor, which is clocked at 1.3 GHz, and has 2 MB L2 cache. There is 2 GB DDR3 RAM and the discrete graphics is courtesy an ATI Radeon HD 5430 GPU. There is a whopping 320 GB hard drive, which is more than sufficient for storing office documents and work-related data, so hoarding multimedia content is also an option. Other features include 2 USB and an eSATA/USB combo port, an HDMI and a VGA port, a memory card reader, a 1.3 megapixel webcam and audio jacks. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi N, gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth. Keeping the slim form factor and the product category in mind, we aren’t considering the absence of an optical drive as a major downside, but you might; especially if you need one in your laptop. Finally, the machine ships pre-loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium and a couple of built-in MSI utilities.

In addition to the highlights, such as the design and build quality, it is also the built-in utilities of this laptop that standout, more than the core hardware. The MSI Eco Engine and the MSI S-Bar are the two striking features, as far as utilities are concerned. While the former enables efficient use of the battery in various application areas, the latter provides customizable application-shortcuts on the desktop. The S-Bar has two default profiles - Entertainment and Tools - and each profile has ten shortcut icons which target, ten different applications. So at one given time, there can be ten different shortcut icons floating atop the taskbar. Apart from these two profiles, there are three empty profile slots, which can be assigned and customized with various other applications. To switch between profiles, just right-click on the S-Bar, and select Profiles, and then the name of the profile.

The spacious wrist rest, large and textured touch-pad, big mouse buttons, and the chiclet keyboard are comfortable to use. Also, accessibility is easy and the user-experience is good because there aren’t any ports at the back and the speakers are projected in front. So overall, the machine scores well in the ergonomics area. The one thing we could point out is that, the size of the keys should have been slightly bigger, especially the Enter and Shift keys, which are quite smaller than usual.



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