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The MSI X340 is slim and light, making it a great notebook to have if you want something for the road. Unfortunately, it suffers from a couple of problems that could have been easily addressed by the company.

The slim profile is the first thing that people will notice about the X340. It measures 19.8mm at its thickest point and 6.0mm at its thinnest. The exterior feels sturdy and can probably withstand a slight bump or two, although you can always put it inside the faux leather cover (included in the package) to give added protection.

Input and outputs ports are aplenty – Two USB ports, an Ethernet port, VGA-out port , SD card reader, HDMI port, as well as an headphone and microphone jack are all located on the sides of the notebook. There is no built-in optical drive though, which means that a user would have to purchase an external drive to install software or backup data.

Opening the lid reveals a keyboard that was awful to use. While the keys were well-spaced, it was slow to respond and wobbled every time we typed.  The touchpad was responsive despite being moulded into the case. The left and right click buttons are present but is moulded into one piece. Right below the touchpad are eight icons that show you whether the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Caps Lock, and Number Lock are on/off, in addition to icons that tell you if the unit is on Sleep or accessing the hard drive.

 

The 13.4-inch screen is bright, produces great colours, and has a native resolution of 1366×768. The unit’s microphone and headphone is embedded at the top, in case you want to initiate a video conference.

Specification-wise, the unit features an Intel Core 2 U3500 processor running at 1.4Ghz, a UMA GMA 4500MHD graphics card, 2GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and comes with Wireless and Bluetooth built-in. The X340 comes pre-installed with Windows Vista Home Premium.

Software pre-installed on the device includes a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Works, Norton Internet Security (Trial), CrazyTalk Cam Suite (for videocamera), Corel Ulead Burn.Now (for backing up data or creating an audio/video disc), WinRAR, and MSI’s Backup and reinstall software suite.

In terms of performance, the X340 obtained a score of 536 in 3DMark06 and 1869 in PCMark05, which means that this notebook is strictly for surfing, simple office applications, and to a certain extent, casual games. Videos are fine just so long as the file being played is not HD. The unit lasted for 121 minutes in our video test, which probably equates to 3-4 hours of use when adjusted to ‘Turbo Battery Mode.’

The MSI X340 may have the form factor, but it has slight problems that may annoy users. The flimsy and wobbly keyboard, weak processor, and lack of an optical drive are just some of the things that prevent it from being a great unit to have. It is available now for $1,499.

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