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Just as it harks back to earlier times with its non-chiclet keyboard, MSI also seems to be stuck in the past with the touchpad, which doesn't support multi-touch. Mind you, it's hardly an essential feature, and at least the sensitive pad's ergonomics match that of the keyboard. Its matte surface is very pleasant to the touch and its metal-etched buttons, though a tad stiff, feature a defined click.
Connectivity is excellent. For internet and networking duties there's a 56K modem (still essential for some few unfortunate souls) and Gigabit Ethernet, together with Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth V2.1 plus EDR on the wireless side. Three ordinary USB 2.0 ports are supplemented by a dual USB/eSATA port. There's even mini-FireWire for those that still use it.
At the back are both VGA and HDMI outputs for video, while no less than four 3.5mm audio jacks provide for 7.1 digital or analogue audio. Thankfully they're now tastefully finished in black rather than the garish colours found on previous MSI gaming laptops. A memory card reader and 54mm ExpressCard slot complete the picture, while optical drive duties are handled by the aforementioned Blu-ray ROM and DVD+/-RW combo drive.
Despite the inclusion of this high definition sequel to DVD, however, you won't be able to enjoy Blu-rays in Full HD (1080p) without an external monitor or TV, as the 17in screen sports a 1,680 x 1,050 (16:10 aspect) native resolution. Though considering the relatively weak graphics it's a logical choice.
Whatever your opinion on the matter, overall the screen is a good one. There's little to no sign of backlight bleed or banding, colour production is punchy and uniform and it's very sharp. Black detail is also good, though at the cost of white purity. This compromise makes sense on a machine oriented towards films and gaming. Viewing angles are also surprisingly good, almost on a level with the Dell Studio XPS 16 and its RGB-LED backlit display.
Though the GT740 has four speakers they don't quite match up to its display's performance, as they lack bass (despite a dedicated subwoofer) and distort slightly at their maximum volume. However, the speakers still create a relatively deep and wide soundstage if you stay below this maximum. You'll get better quality using decent headphones or speakers, but they're useable and occasionally impressive.