The low-cost ULV market just got a bit more competitive: MSI made some much-needed improvements to its X340, making this ultraportable much more affordable and attractive to consumers. Since we first reviewed a preproduction unit of the X340 in May, the company is now offering the notebook with an 8-cell battery, more than doubling its endurance to 8 hours and 48 minutes. At the same time, MSI reduced the price of the X340 to $799 from $899. While we initially knocked the X340's 4-cell battery for having somewhat low endurance (3 hours and 38 minutes, to be exact), its new score boosts it above a competing ultraportable, the Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T, whose battery lasted 8:05 on the LAPTOP Battery Test. Moreover, the X340 is now $100 less expensive than the Acer. The extended battery increases the X340's weight to 3.4 pounds from 2.9 pounds, but it's hardly enough to notice, and the battery's wedge-shaped design blends neatly into the underside of the chassis. For consumers who already purchased an X340 with a 4-cell battery, MSI will offer the 8-cell for $99.
While the X340 has the same internal specs as before (Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 CULV, 2GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive), MSI made one other critical improvement: the keyboard no longer acts like a trampoline. While there is still a tiny bit of flex, it's not enough to be distracting.
So: better battery, better keyboard, and a lower price? These three improvements to the X340 are enough for us to bump its rating from 3.5 stars to 4. Good job, MSI!
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