One of the more curious developments in the whole consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) movement is the existence of large, 'thin and light' laptops. Call us practical and sensible if you like, but anything much larger than an A4 sheet of paper is instantly qualified as 'less than portable', no matter how thin or light it might be. MSI is one of many peddling such machines, though, so let's take a closer look at its 15.6in effort, the X600.
If you're having pangs of deja vu about now, it's probably because the X600 is part of the same line of laptops as the previously reviewed X-Slim X340. It wasn't an especially auspicious start. While it was easy to see what MSI was driving at with the X340 - i.e. a thin, portable, MacBook Air-like laptop for half the price - the execution was ham-fisted. Build quality was poor, performance (particularly battery life) was mediocre and the price too steep.
Happily the X600 does rectify many of the problems of the X340. Build quality is much improved. Gone are the horrible flexing keyboard and mushy keys; in are reasonable fit and finish throughout and some semblance of reassurance. We still have reservations about the overall sturdiness, items like the RAM and hard drive are visible through the system's venting and seem rather exposed, but the X600 isn't discernibly worse than 90 per cent of the laptops out there and it weighs a very palatable 2.1kg.
Its spec, at least in this version, is better as well. You get an Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600 CPU running at 1.6GHz with 3MB L2 Cache, a plentiful 4GB of RAM and a massive 500GB hard drive. There's no integrated optical drive, though an external drive is provided in the box. You also get a serviceable, if slightly plain, carry bag. Wireless-N Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth round-off the otherwise competent feature set, while a two year warranty is very welcome.
Aesthetically, while the 25mm thickness and general 'thin is in' design ethic has its issues, the X600 is a nicely sculpted machine. Its aggressively tapered edges give it the desired sleek, low-profile appearance and an air of class. Aside from being very slim, however, the design is pretty conservative; completed, as it is, entirely in glossy and matt black plastic. It might not be adventurous, but if it's a choice between this and the ugly embellishments found on the GT627 then conservative is good thing.