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It's been a long time since we looked at a notebook made by MSI, over two years in fact, but there's good reason for this. In the intervening time MSI has been concentrating on its OEM market, manufacturing notebooks for other companies like Evesham, and rather neglecting its own brand. However, in the last few months the company has been refocusing on its own models, of which there was row upon row at the MSI booth at Computex this year, in the hope of establishing itself in this increasingly popular sector of the computing market. Now, a couple of months down the line, the first of this new range has landed in our offices and it's my job to put it through its paces.
The particular model I'm looking at is the PR210, a 12in laptop that's based on AMDs Turion64 dual core notebook processor. Coming in at £699 it is very competitively priced for such a small notebook and, also given the features it packs in, presents a promising proposition. However, can MSI really compete with the likes of Samsung's super cheap Q45 and the Acer TravelMate 6292.
First impressions are very encouraging with plain but attractive styling being matched by a very sturdy, quality feel. While the lid is understandably flexible given its thickness, or lack thereof, the main body is very stiff and doesn't give way under the usual twist, poke and prod tests. Without testing it to destruction, it's impossible to know whether this strength is reflected in the notebook's ability to survive a fall or severe knock but keeping movement to a minimum reduces the chances of the chassis failing due to fatigue.
Black and silver is the age old combination of colours chosen for the various exterior surfaces and as always, it looks just fine. The circular logo that sits on the lid is rather large and chunky and would be more appealing if it didn't stick out so far and was toned down a bit but otherwise there's little to fault. The inside is equally attractive in an understated way, with the only notable addition being the laser cut aluminium speaker grill that runs along the top of the keyboard, which adds just a little bit of bling to an otherwise bland laptop. My favourite aspect of the chassis, though, is the extended battery.
By angling the battery down, rather than back, the bottom of the laptop is lifted clear of the surface it's sitting on, allowing even more air to flow underneath and keep things cool. It's a clever little design feature that instantly endeared this laptop to me and it should prove useful for anyone that works with it sat flat on a desk for long periods.