The MSI CR640 uses a 15.6in LCD screen with a 1377×768 resolution panel. It has a glossy surface, so won’t thank you for being taken outside during those short summer months – it picks up reflections very easily.
The backlight of our review model was extremely even, with no signs of bleed whatsoever. Horizontal viewing angles are decent, but vertical angles are limited by some significant contrast shift. Tilt the screen back too far and most shadow detail is lost. The MSI CR640 performs better in this respect than some mid-range laptops, but we still found contrast shift noticeable when watching video, using a normal screen angle.
The bezel of the laptop houses an ambient light sensor that can be used to control the backlight level automatically. It’s reasonably effective and could help you save some battery depending on the variety of environments you hang around in. It can be turned off in a second using one the F-key shortcuts.
Other secondary functions mapped to the F-keys are the standards of switching Wi-Fi, power modes and enabling/disabling the trackpad. The keyboard surround is refreshingly flex-free, but unfortunately the keyboard itself is not of super-high quality. It uses chiclet keys and the action is not definite enough. There’s too much sponginess, too much give after the connection has already been made. We expect this a symptom of imperfect design rather than a real failing in basic build quality – so it’s something you’ll get used to in time, but much better keyboards are available at the price.
The trackpad isn’t without problems too. As part of the laptop’s “dynamic” styling, it features a texture of concentric circles radiating out from the centre. This means that the friction exerted against your fingertip changes depending on the angle of movement, and that it gives off the odd squeaking noise as part of this bargain.
Even MSI can’t forgo the laws of physics for the sake of a killer look. The trackpad’s of a reasonable size though, so it’s the sort of quibble you can weather through with a bit of patience. And hey, if you get bored you can pretend you’re a DJ and start scratching away at the thing.