Micro-Star International (MSI), perhaps best known as one of the top five motherboard manufacturers, recently announced its latest line of notebooks, the PR210 YA Edition. With models available inpink, green, and blue, the company hopes these systems will help consumers better "articulate their individualism." While we found that the PR210 YA Edition has some room for improvement, it could be a good fit for college students and hipsters who want to express themselves.
The denim-blue cover of the 4.6-poundMSI PR210is adorned with an ostentatious MSI logo surrounded by a silver ring (though it's not as obnoxious as the rhinestone ring on earlier models). Colors on the inside of the unit complement the exterior: The blue cover gets a brighter gun-metal blue interior; the green model's accents are silver; the coral pink version is light pink on the inside.
Sporting a 12-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel resolution widescreen, the MSI PR210's display is colorful and bright in well-lit and dim environments. While DVDs looked crisp, the glossy screen was a magnet for glare, and viewing angles were narrow.
The white keyboard was a pleasure to type on, with smooth and responsive keys. And even though the right-Shift and Enter keys are small, we didn't mistype because of it. The touchpad was large enough to navigate easily around the desktop. The underside of the PR210 has a rough texture to it, which helped keep the notebook steady on our lap during use.
Security-conscious users will appreciate the fingerprint reader located between the two mouse buttons. Centered above the display is a microphone and a 1.3-megapixel camera, ideal for video chats. In our tests the camera produced a clear picture and reproduced colors accurately.
MSI PR210 Connectivity
We appreciated the uncramped layout of the notebook's ports; the left side houses a VGA, Ethernet, DVD burner, and a single USB 2.0 port. The power jack is on the rear-right side of the unit, and the microphone and headphone jacks are up front for easy access. The right side has a 4-in-1 memory card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, modem, HDMI port, and DTV antenna plug. An optional TV tuner is available for about $90.
Not for Speed Demons
We had no problem multitasking with the MSIPR210 (we Skyped, played movies, and surfed the Web at the same time), but this is definitely not a notebook for speed demons. The PCMark05 score turned in by the 1.7-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Mobile processor and measly 1GB of RAM was more than 700 points below average for a thin-and-light machine. The integrated ATI graphics produced a ho-hum 3DMark03 score of 1,545, more than 600 points below average. This notebook lasted nearly 4 hours on a charge, which is pretty good for a sub-$1,000 machine.
The PR210 offers Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity, and though we're disappointed it doesn't have built-in 802.11n support, the unit's wireless throughput numbers were exceptional. At 15 feet we saw a data rate of 20.4 Mbps, edging out every other thin-and-light to date. The 18.2 Mbps we saw at 50 feet from our access point was also strong.
Pre-Installed Software and Customer Support
The PR210comes with Adobe Reader 7.0, CyberLink DVD software, a 90-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2006, and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office. It is backed by a one-year warranty and one year of limited technical support. MSI doesn't offer 24-hour tech support. You can call only 10 hours out of the day, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays (PST).
MSI PR210 YA Edition Verdict
In general, we like the design and portability of the MSI PR210; its keyboard didn't leave us feeling cramped, and it offers good enough performance for everyday tasks. If you're looking for more oomph, we recommend Acer's TravelMate 6291, which costs only $50 more. But this notebook will turn a lot more heads around town or campus.
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