MSI Megabook S271 review

£500
Price when reviewed

The second of our 12.1in portables is MSI’s Megabook S271. And although it’s impressive to see a compact machine for a low price, it inevitably suffers in comparison to the Advent. Although it weighs only 100g more than its rival, it feels more bulky, mainly due to the battery. This not only protrudes 15mm at the back, but also acts as a rear foot to tilt the laptop towards the user, making it half a centimetre thicker at the rear.

MSI Megabook S271 review

This would be forgivable if battery life were the S271’s strength, but it lasted only three hours under light use. Admittedly, that’s half an hour longer than the Advent, but hardly enough to justify the extra bulk.

However, the MSI does have a large and comfortable keyboard. The Return key is full-sized and there’s nothing too irritating about the layout, although the presence of PgUp, PgDn, Home and End keys means some of the punctuation keys are cramped. We’re not huge fans of the mouse buttons, either, which are joined to the base by just one edge and feel a little flimsy.

The glossy 12.1in screen is bright and, despite the thinness of the lid, it flexes enough to take a knock or two. In addition, the 1,280 x 800 resolution is exactly the same as the 15.4in models, so you’re not missing out by opting for a reduced size. The speakers below it, however, are barely worth using, leaking a tinny sound that won’t do your DVDs or business presentations justice.

The 100GB hard disk is smaller than most, but you do get Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, a flash card reader, an ExpressCard/54 slot, and Vista Home Premium. We didn’t expect much power from our portables, so the benchmark score of 0.64 wasn’t surprising, but a quick look at the 0.88 of the Advent shows that you don’t need to sacrifice this much power.

The extra year of RTB warranty, on top of a year of collect and return, is a nice inclusion, but other than this there simply isn’t enough incentive to choose the MSI Megabook S271 when the Advent offers more for the same price.

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