If you're a regular reader of TrustedReviews, you'll know that my personal preference when it comes to notebooks, is something small and light, but that doesn't compromise too much on features. This way of thinking has usually led me to the door of established ultra-portable notebook manufacturers like Sony, IBM and Toshiba. In fact, the IBM ThinkPad X40 is still top of my list when it comes to desirable notebook computers. However, I am starting to see new players in this market, and the Samsung Q30 came very close to swaying my affections from the X40. But one manufacturer that I wasn't expecting to produce a sleek, slim and stylish notebook was MSI.
I've seen MSI notebooks on display at many trade shows over the past couple of years, but the company has never really made a push into the market. This is about to change as MSI is gearing up to throw some weight behind its notebooks and grab some of the market share that's enjoyed by the big boys.
There's no prizes for guessing where MSI got its inspiration for the Mega Book S260 - it bears a striking resemblance to an Apple iBook, but to be fair to MSI, it does offer colours other than white. This is probably a good thing, since not everyone is a fan of all things Apple - isn't that right Jalal?
The Mega Book S260 isn't the smallest or the lightest notebook on the block - 303 x 225 x 28mm (WxDxH) and 1.8kg - but it does have an integrated optical drive, which most super-lightweight machines have to do without. The dimensions and weight still make the S260 a good bet for anyone that needs a notebook with them all day, every day.
The Mega Book S260 is the first notebook that MSI has produced based on the Sonoma Centrino platform. In fact the machine sitting in front of me right now is a pre-production prototype, as the full production models aren't quite ready yet. With this in mind I wasn't able to benchmark the S260, but I was keen to get an idea of the look, feel and features of MSI's new baby.
There's no denying that the finish on the S260 is good - the finish is matt, rather than gloss, which probably means that it won't be as susceptale to scratches - Benny's iBook is testiment to the scratch issues with a gloss white finish.
Lifting the lid reveals the 12.1in widescreen display. I'm a big fan of widescreen aspect ratios since you end up with more desktop real estate, without having to significantly add to the physical dimensions of the notebook. Anyone who's tried to use a large screen notebook with a standard 4:3 aspect ratio in a plane will know exactly what I mean. It's also worth remembering that most 12.1in screens will sport a resolution of 1,024 x 768, while this widescreen panel manages 1,280 x 800.
MSI has been smart enough to finish the screen with a high-contrast coating - Sony pioneered this with its X-Black coating, but pretty much every notebook manufacturer has followed suit since. The upshot is that you get a much brighter image, with more vivid colours - the down side is an increase in reflectivity. Opinion is split on these screens, but personally I find the increased reflectivity to be a small price to pay for the brighter and more vibrant image. A screen like this really comes into its own when you're watching a movie, which again highlights the advantage of a widescreen aspect ratio.