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MSI EX620 - 16in Notebook - MSI EX620 - 16in Notebook
Opening up the EX620 notebook reveals a reasonable-looking interior. Those who are annoyed by glossy bezels will be pleased to hear MSI has kept it a matte black. This does change to glossy for the base, including the palm-rests. However, halfway past the keyboard the finish transitions smoothly from plain black to grey with the same wave pattern as the lid. This light-grey finish does a good job of hiding fingerprints, meaning the palm-rests here require far less maintenance than on most glossy examples.
The solid piano-black part above the keyboard is broken up nicely by two square metal speaker grilles with chrome surrounds and a blue-backlit power button in a similar surround. This is also where you'll find the almost inevitable selection of touch-sensitive shortcuts and multimedia controls. Thankfully, these are incredibly responsive and unlike most implementations will recognise quick successive presses. On the downside fingerprints are very visible here and firm presses make the entire section flex.
Aside from stop, play and track selection, this touch panel can activate Cinema Pro mode (adjusting screen colours and activating the Dolby Sound); switch between a broad selection of usage modes (such as Gaming, Office, Presentation, Movie and Turbo Battery modes which affect screen brightness and other factors); turn the webcam, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on or off; and finally, a button you can assign to opening any program you wish. This is a very nice feature which you rarely see and we wish more manufacturers would implement it.
Unfortunately, the keyboard is a disappointment. In terms of layout, the Fn key is situated to the outside of Ctrl, while the Enter key is half-height like a US configuration and the '\' key is located between Alt and the spacebar.,Finally, although there is a full number pad on hand, the zero is pushed over to reside under the two by the cursor keys. This could easily have been avoided; for an example of how to do it right one need only look at the HP HDX16 we reviewed recently.
What would otherwise have been good feedback is also marred by an inordinate amount of flex. Despite all the space the 16in form factor provides, MSI still hasn't found a way to include dedicated Home and End keys.
Thankfully, the touchpad is a lot better. Though in terms of design its paleness doesn't match with the darker grey around it, its textured surface is nice to use - as are the large buttons that provide a positive click. Nestled between them is a fingerprint scanner for the security-conscious. To the right of the touchpad reside the blue-backlit activity icons, three of which (wireless, battery and sleep-state) are visible with the EX620 closed.