Apple’s MacBook Air is about as far as Apple will go towards a netbook currently–touting its super-thin sized ultraportability. But MSI knows a good idea when it sees it, and the company has stepped up with its own super-slim x320…which looks almost identical to the Air.
Right down to the aluminum finish, curved edges to the screen and keyboard, 13.4-inch screen, large trackpad with a single button, curved back and positioning of some of the machine’s ports. It’s not quite so skinny, at 1.9cm deep across its whole width, but it’s close. It’s also got a glossy black screen bezel more akin to the standard MacBooks, but the overall similarity is so shocking that it’s a wonder Apple’s lawyers aren’t in action right at this moment.
Inside the machine it’s a different story of course. Apple’s ultraportable is sold on its merits as a full-power machine. But MSI’s offering has an Atom CPU ticking away inside (suspected to be a Z530 at 1.6MHz) which means it simply can’t offer the raw processing power of the Mac. The pre-production model does however have 2GB of RAM installed and runs Windows Vista basic.
But in terms of ports the X320 out-does the Air: it’s got 3 USB sockets versus the Air’s single, Ethernet and VGA-out without requiring a connector/adapter, and a microphone and headphone port. It’s also got a card reader.
The Atom processor helps it trump the Air’s battery life too: MSI is claiming 10 hours (though that’s most likely under pretty tightly-controlled conditions.)
All in all, the MSI seems a pretty amazing machine, and it’s competing in a slightly different market to the Air. When it debuts in April for between $700 and $900, expect it to fly off the shelves–after all, it’s sleek borrowed-from-Apple looks are way better than most netbooks. And at that price, it won’t be long until someone hacks OS X onto it to make an even closer Air clone.