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MSI X-Slim X340-043UK - 13.4in Laptop - MSI X-Slim X340-043UK
Unfortunately, while the appearance is largely up to snuff, the X340 feels nothing like as impressive. Its largely plastic chassis inspires little confidence, with a significant amount of flex in many of the panels. This of itself isn't the end of the world and the X340 isn't as bad as some, but this is where the Apple comparisons begin to bite back.
Most damning is the keyboard, which is utterly woeful. Initially we found the keyboard so poorly mounted that just brushing a hand across the keys made it flex, but pushing down very hard seemed to settle it. However, even then, the typing experience is distinctly mediocre, with flex noticeable to varying degrees across the entire keyboard.
Even where flex isn't present the key action remains distinctly muddy, so it's not a problem isolated to just the mounting of the keyboard itself. Moreover, the layout isn't the best - we particularly dislike the minute Enter key. Overall, when it comes to typing, the X340 left us feeling pretty deflated and of all things this is one area every laptop needs to be (at the very least) competent: the X340 just isn't.
Problems persist with the touchpad, too. It's just a little bit too large, so obstructs typing significantly. There's no dedicated touchpad toggle button, though there is a shortcut on the F3 key, but we'd sooner there was no problem at all. Likewise, while the rocker-style button produces a positive and audible 'click', it only works well at the extreme ends and feels a little cheap.
The 13.4in display is a decent enough effort. It is LED backlit, which helps MSI achieve its headline six millimetres to 19.8mm thickness in addition to a high brightness level. Text is also razor-sharp, so the basics are pretty good. Colour production and dark level detailing are reasonable, but there is some noticeable dithering that leads to banding in gradients.
Like many ultra-portable machines the integrated speakers aren't up to much. Hidden on the underside of the chassis, they lack power and bass, making them only really suitable for online video clips and the like. It's a point not helped by the fact that the X340 could be quieter. During use the fan chugs at a steady, though not excessive speed, while the hard drive is clearly audible and can be quite distracting.