MSI X-Slim X350 view





When MSI introduced its svelte X-Slim series last year, it seemed as if the line of super skinny notebooks was built of equal parts potential and disappointment. The 13.4-inch X340, for example, had attractive slim lines, but suffered from a mediocre keyboard and weak single-core performance. What a difference a year makes: the dual-core, $899 MSI X350 offers stronger performance than its predecessor, and includes a responsive keyboard, comfortable touchpad, and one of the most stylish decks we’ve seen on a notebook. This ultraportable doesn’t have the power of some heavier 13-inch notebooks, but overall it’s a solid choice for those who want to travel light.

Design

At 8.8 x 13 inches with a thickness ranging from 0.3 to 0.8 inches at its thickest point, the MSI X350 has one of the slimmest profiles you’ll find in any notebook. The eight-cell battery gives the back bottom a little bump, and the machine has a total weight of 3.8 pounds, making it a little heavier than competitors such as the 3-pound MacBook Air. However, the additional weight is worth the significant increase in battery life (more on that below).



Like its predecessor, the X350 comes in a sleek shade of black. Its glossy lid sports a subtle grey honeycomb pattern that looks very refined, but picks up fingerprints. The X350’s unique deck is the star of the show, featuring a raised honeycomb texture that feels rubber-like to the touch. Combining this deck with the sleek island keyboard, chrome trim, and smooth black touchpad results in a high-class look. The X350 appears equally at home in the boardroom, the dorm room, and the trendy coffee shop.
Keyboard and Touchpad

The MSI X350’s large island-style keyboard is one of the most comfortable and responsive we’ve tested. After just a few minutes of using the notebook, we managed to get a score of 92 words per minute on the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, 12 wpm above our typical 80-wpm score and a new personal best for this reviewer. We found the 4-inch-long palm rest a comfortable place to put our big wrists, but those with particularly short arms and fingers may find themselves stretching a little to get to the keys. Our only gripe is that some keys are undersized, including the right Shift, Enter, and Backspace keys.



The large, 3.5 x 2-inch touchpad on the X350 has a comfortable black surface that gave us plenty of room to navigate around the desktop with accuracy. It also supports multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom; the Sentelic driver software that comes pre-installed gave us very fine control over the pad’s sensitivity and various multitouch gestures. Because the touchpad is so large and does not have palm rejection capabilities, we initially had a problem with moving the pointer while we were typing. However, after we turned on the touchpad’s typing detection, our problems were solved. While we always prefer discrete mouse pad buttons to a single bar, the X350’s single bar offered decent tactile feedback and was not too stiff.

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