Acer TravelMate 4150LMi
Dell Latitude D610
LG LW60 Express
MSI Megabook S260
MSI Megabook S270
Samsung M40 plus
Toshiba Tecra M3
How we tested
CPU -- Intel
The S260 is the first of the MSI notebooks delivered to the lab. In terms of form factor, both MSI notebooks are similar to the Asus W5000 -- the S260 is arguably the best looking of the three with its pearl white finish. With the white colour scheme, including the keyboard, the MSI does look "Macish".
The S260 has quite a small foot print but is surprisingly heavy for it size, weighing in at just over 2.1kg.
In general, the unit is quite robust. While the display flexes too easily, we were surprised that it is reasonably well protected against impacts from the rear and it takes quite a thump to actually unsettle the display.
The display, like the Asus W5000, is gorgeous. It's a widescreen, 1280 x 800 pixel, with a glossy finish so the colours are outstanding, as are fingerprints and reflections of course. The screen fonts are sharp but because the display is only 12in along the diagonal they are also very small and for those with poor sight may be a bit of a chore to browse for extended periods.
It's interesting to note that while the display and chipset appear so similar when compared to the Asus W5000, the MSI does not have such a high external display resolution with 1600 x 1200, the maximum compared with the Asus's 1920 x 1080. Sadly the MSI appeared to be a little weak in the 3D tests when compared to the other vendors.
The keyboard fits snugly across the width of the notebook and its usability is just as good as many of the larger notebooks with quite large keys and good travel and feedback. The only colour differentiation is some of the special function legends and the numeric overlay. The Touch Pad is a vanilla unit in terms of functionality and is relatively large with two small buttons, which while they lack travel certainly have a positive and "clicky" feedback.
With speakers mounted at the base of the display bezel, much like the Asus W5000, you cannot really expect a Hi Fidelity audio experience. Unlike the Asus however the MSI has plenty of volume and is not quite as squeaky, although there is certainly not much of a mellow bottom end to speak of. With a compatible amp the MSI's SPDIF output can provide 5.1 surround sound.
Network connectivity is not as good as some of the other vendors -- wireless coverage includes 802.11b/g but not "a", and the wired LAN tops out at 100Mb. Otherwise, the connectivity is not bad with three USB2 ports, Firewire port, PC Card slot and a slot for SD, MMC and Memory Stick cards.
The S260 comes with a dual layer DVD burner -- just the thing for creating your own movie blockbusters. Along with the Acer, the MSI S260 had the lowest-clocked CPU at just 1.6GHz. In most of the raw performance tests, the MSI and Acer were neck to neck, as one would expect, except for the memory bandwidth tests where the Acer soundly outperformed the S260. This appears to be a telling factor in the Business application and Content Creation application testes where the S260 was again outclassed by the Acer.
The battery fitted to the S260 had twice the capacity of the one fitted to the S270, 4400mAh compared to 2200mAh, so it comes as no surprise that the S260 had a significantly longer battery life. At four hours and 37 minutes the S260 was only one minute behind the Samsung, which was in second place overall.
The S260 was efficient at dissipating heat with the exhaust from the heat exchanger peaking at just 27.5oC and the peak hot spot under the unit just 33°C.