Back when MSI released its first X-Slim notebook, the 13in X340, there weren't many ways you could get your hands on an inch-thick laptop for under £1,000. It didn't have the build quality of the MacBook Air or Dell Adamo, nor the features of Samsung's X360, but it looked like reasonable value for money.
Six months later and things have changed. Asus' UL30A offers everything the X340 had and more for less, and if Packard Bell's dot m/u is as good as it looks for £400 when it launches, you may never need to spend more on a laptop again. Fortunately, MSI has a new way to stay ahead of the competition – the X600.
Big and bad
Compared to the X340, the X600 is astonishing value for money. It's cheaper but bigger, for a start. The screen spans a full 15.6in diagonal and the keyboard is a very comfortable full-size one complete with numberpad.
The low-voltage CPU isn't hugely powerful, but it's a dual core model and is coupled with AMD's Radeon HD 3440 graphics chip. That's not up to playing Crysis in HD, but it's exponentially better than the 3D processors ultra thin notebooks usually boast. It'll easily run games like World of Warcraft at full native resolution, for example.
Low pixel count
Although the screen is large, the panel is a low-resolution one. 1080p video is a non-starter despite the capabilities of the graphics chip, and there's not as much extra room on the desktop as you might think given its physical size. Worse, it means the picture lacks sharpness, and appears washed out and faded, too.
There are other, more cosmetic, flaws. The monitor hinges aren't robust enough to prevent a bit of screen shake, and there's no distinction between the trackpad and the rest of the case. While the lid is sleekly polished, the plastic finish of the rest of the chassis feels low quality and like it might shatter at any moment.
You're always going to make some sort of compromises to get a 15in laptop for less than a grand, though, and the X600 does come with an external USB drive, which helps the value-for-money angle. The question it really poses is that if thin is your thing, wouldn't you be happier with a 13in machine instead?
If the answer to that is no, then for all its faults the X600 is uniquely portable and still relatively powerful – and with around three-and-a-half to four hours of battery life will last a whole train journey too. It's another worthy first from MSI that will no doubt lead more to follow.