Thin Laptop showdown: MACbook air vs msi x slim vs Acer thin n light

Coming from those heavy Moses commandment tablet type 15" laptops from a couple of years ago, netbooks weighing at 1.3kgs were a sigh of relief.  

But workability in terms of processing power, keyboard comfort, eye comfort from the small screen were the big drawbacks.  Come Macbook air's rivals msi x slim 340 and Acer thin and slim, plus HP's version coming out in the fourth quarter, I see the shift of laptop usage coming back to the 13.5" and above as they weigh the same and goes back to the original laptop power and performance.

MSI X SLIM:

Starting at 2.86 pounds, the MSI X340 is based on the Intel CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage) technology with the GS45 chipset and the GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics. It includes a Core 2 Solo CPU, up to 2GB of DDR2 memory, and up to 500GB of hard drive space. The laptop doesn’t feature a built-in optical drive.

The listed models are the X340-023US in white and the black X340-021US, both currently out of stock at msimobile.com. The notebooks come with the Core 2 Solo SU3500 CULV chip (1.4GHz, 3MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB), 2GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive.

Their glossy 13.4″ LED backlight screens have a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1366×768 pixels.

The X340 also sports a 1.3MP web camera, stereo speakers, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, a Gigabit LAN port, HDMI and VGA outputs, two USB ports, and an SD/SDHC/MMC media card reader. Select models are expected to ship with an embedded WiMAX module.

The ultraportable, that measures only 6mm at its thinnest and 20mm at its widest point, comes with a 4- or 8-cell battery and Windows Vista Home Premium operating system.

The MSI X-Slim X340-023US and X340-021US are priced at $1.099.

 

You knew the comparisons were inevitable, but have you braced yourself for how incredibly similar these two laptops are? MSI's new X-Slim 320 13.3-inch ultraportable is a teensy bit wider and a teensy bit thicker than the MacBook Air, but most of the dimensions, layouts and curves are uncannily alike. As for build quality, MSI obviously suffers a bit for its netbook heritage. The plastics aren't stellar, and the keyboard, while delightfully full size, is a tad squishy, but there's still no denying that this is a pretty wild deal for this very particular form factor — plus that built-in 3G, VGA and Ethernet are just rubbing it in Apple's face.

comparison from laptopmag:

Design and Ports WINNER: MSI X340. Easy access to ports (and lots of them!) allowed us to overlook the flimsy feel.

 

Keyboard and Touchpad WINNER: MacBook Air. A solid, comfortable keyboard is conducive to a pleasurable typing experience.

Display WINNER: MSI X340. The sharper colors and slightly crisper visuals one-upped the Apple MacBook Air.

Performance WINNER: The MacBook Air, by a mile. Clearly, these two systems are not in the same class when comes to processing power and graphics. However, the X340 was more than adequate for common tasks like surfing the Web, sending e-mail, writing documents in Word, or watching 720p video.

Battery Life WINNER: MSI X340.  The Air may have better performance, but these are both meant to be ultraportable systems, not high-end workstations. You can’t be too mobile when you only get two measly hours of battery life.

Value and Verdict
The MacBook Air certainly offers a lot of power given its svelte design; our $2,499 configuration includes a 1.86-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics (with 256MB of memory), 2GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid-state drive. A lower-priced model is available for $1,799, which offers a 1.6-GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and the same graphics chip but a slower, 4,200-rpm 120GB HDD.

Conversely, X340 is nearly as good a performer but is far more wallet-friendly at $899 — $900 less than the Air’s lower-end configuration. The system houses a 1.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 UL3V processor, 2GB of RAM, 320GB, and 5,400-rpm hard drive. It’s build quality and keyboard aren’t as good as the Air, but these are trade-offs we think many consumers will be willing to make. Some may be turned off, however, by MSI’s limited tech support hours.

Ultimately, selecting a champion in this contest can be tricky, particularly if you favor either the Mac OS X or Windows Vista operating system. But in terms of usability and bang for the buck, the X340 offers a similarly slim design with more easily accessible ports and better battery life for considerably less money.

  MSI X340 MacBook Air
Price $899 $1799 – $2,499
Weight 2.9 Pounds 3.0 Pounds
Size 13 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches
Ports 2 USB, Ethernet, HDMI, Modem, VGA, headphone, microphone, card reader 1 USB, headphone, Mini-DisplayPort
Display 13.4-inch 1366×768 13.3-inch 1280×800
CPU 1.4-GHz Core 2 Solo SU3500 1.6 / 1.8-GHz Core 2 Duo
Storage 320GB 5,400 rpm HDD 120GB 4,200 rpm HDD / 128GB SSD
PCMark Vantage 1,658 3,684
3DMark06 643 1,385
Battery Life (hours) 3:38 2:08

 ACER THIN N SLIM

The slim notebook, pictured above and available with a choice of 13.3in, 14.1in or 15.6in LED 1,366×768 displays, measures 24-29mm and, though not as thin as say a MacBook Air, weighs a comfortable 1.6kg for the smallest model.

Inside, there's a choice of Intel's ULV mobile processors – namely the dual-core 1.4GHz SU9400 or single-core 1.4GHz SU3500 – coupled with Intel's GS45 Express chipset, integrated GMA 4500MHD graphics and up to 4GB of DDR3 memory.

Armed with a 320GB hard drive as standard, Acer provides the option to upgrade to larger hard disks or an 80GB solid state drive. Elsewhere, there's a multi-touch trackpad, support for Wi-Fi and WiMAX connectivity, a 5-in-1 card reader, HDMI out and Microsoft's Windows Vista Home Premium operating system.

Not a bad looking system, we reckon, and it'll be tempting should prices start from the $699 we're seeing quoted. Still no news on availability, however.

 

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