Say what you want about MSI, just don't try and claim the company doesn't have a sense of humor. How else would you explain the company's Toast PC?
Let us set the record straight - we're not the ones who labeled this a Toast PC. MSI is actually calling it that, at least during CeBIT. We'll have to see if the name sticks following the convention.
We'll also have to wait until after CeBIT to find out the Toast PC's specs. All we know so far is that it comes with a slot-load DVD drive located at the top, the same location you'd slide in a slice of bread if this were a real toaster. There's also a remote control that snaps onto the side of the PC. Oh, and we're pretty sure it doesn't actually make toast.
Who says you have to sacrifice functionality when putting together a micro-ATX build? Not MSI, who just unveiled its 890GXM-G65 motherboard.
MSI's latest board includes a bevy of higher-end and forward-thinking features, including SATA 3.0 support. Perhaps more usable in the short-term, the 890GXM-G65 also boasts native support for USB 3.0.
You'll also find a few goodies of interest to overclockers that aren't often found on mATX boards. MSI touts "military-grade" electronics components, all solid caps, solid state choke to reduce noise, a heatpipe design MSI claims can result in average operating temps of 52C, and the company's latest OC Genie Lite overclocking technology.
Other features include HDMI and DVI outputs, integrated ATI Radeon HD 4290 graphics, and lossless 24-bit/192kHz HD audio.
MSI, as you're well aware, markets and sells its own line of branded hardware, everything from motherboards and videocards, to netbooks and notebooks, and a spattering of products in between. But the company also maintains an OEM business, and for the first time, MSI is losing OEM orders, says Henry Lu, vice president of MSI.
According to Lu, MSI shipped less than two million notebooks in 2009, which failed to meet expectations. And of those it did ship, about 70 percent were branded models, which Lu says is indicative of its brand business showing significant improvement.
MSI noted a similar trend in its graphics card business, which saw a big drop in 2009. According to Lu, some clients are concerned about the rise of MSI's brand business, and as a result, he expects shipments of both its notebook and graphics division to continue to drop in 2010.
One solution would be to spin off its brand and OEM businesses, but Lu said this isn't likely to happen, at least not within the next three years. Instead, MSI will put a much greater focus on its branded business in an attempt to offset the losses from its OEM orders.
MSI this week beefed up its "Classic Series" notebook line with a trio of new 15.6-inch models built around Intel's Arrandale platform, and one 16-inch model with Nvidia graphics.
The CR620-030US and CR620-033US -- both 15.6 units -- sport a Core i3-330M processor and a 320GB hard drive, while the former also comes with a DVD burner and the latter a Blu-ray reader. The last of the 15.6-inch models -- CR620-031US -- ups the hardware ante with a Core i5 430M CPU and 500GB hard drive, though no Blu-ray option. All three models boast Intel's Arrandale HD graphics and 4GB of DDR3-1066 memory.
The 16-inch CR600-234US notebook switches gears to a Pentium dual-core T4500, 3GB of DDR2 memory, 320GB hard drive, DVD writer, and Nvidia's GeForce 8200M G graphics.
All four models are available now for $$630 (CR620-030US), $700 (CR620-033US), $730 (CR620-031US), and $530 (CR600-234US).
CeBIT isn't slated to run for about another couple of weeks, but rather than wait to lift the wraps on its newest desktop replacement, MSI on Tuesday off ered up a few details on its upcoming GT660 gaming notebook.
Every bit the next-gen part, the GT660 crams a Core i7 processor into what we presume will end up being a 17-inch display. Anything smaller would be a colossal waste of the GeForce GTX 285M graphics that will also be stuffed inside. MSI could have stopped there and had a winning combo on its hands, but the GT2660 also boasts USB 3.0 ports and up to 12GB of memory.
Even the audio is supposed to be high-end, at least according to MSI, who says it worked with "a leader in sound system design" in constructing the enclosure and speakers.
No word yet on price or availability, which will soon change with CeBIT just around the corner.
MSI paraded three concept all-in-ones (AIOs) at last month's Consumer Electronics Show. A 24-inch 3D Wind Top was also among that very intriguing trio. The 3D Wind Top is now going to get another opportunity to wow tech-savvy onlookers at CeBIT 2010, which begins on March 2, 2010 in Hannover, Germany.
“MSI's Wind Top All-in-One 3D PC integrates advanced 3D display technology with powerful CPU processing to deliver smooth, clear and vibrant 3D images with a high level of image detail and clarity," the company announced.
MSI today unveiled its GE600 notebook geared towards gamers. The 16-inch portable PC was first shown at CES earlier this year and includes an Intel Core i5 processor.
For graphics duties, the GE600 comes decked out with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics with 1GB of dedicated RAM. But the new notebook is also notable for the inclusion of a 720p HD webcam.
Customers will be able to choose between a 250GB, 320GB, or 500GB hard drive. Other specs include 7.1-channel audio output, touch-sensitive hotkeys, MSI's GPU Boost overclocking technology, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi, HDMI video output, three USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, Windows 7 Home Premium, and an optional 9-cell battery (6-cell comes standard).
Targeting the value segment, MSI this week announced four new additions to its C-series (Classic series) notebook line. The new models consist of the 16-inch CR600 and 15.6-inch CR620-030, CR620-033, and CR620-031.
All three 620-based models are built around Intel's Arrandale platform and tout either a Core i3 or i5 processor. Each one also comes equipped with 4GB of DDR3 memory, and either a 320GB or 500GB hard drive. Those who opt for the CR620-033 will also get a Blu-ray DVD combo drive.
The CR600 comes with Nvidia's GeForce 8200M graphics, and like the rest, it also boasts 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, HDMI out, 1.3MP webcam, a raised chiclet keyboard, and Windows 7 Home Premium.
All models are available now at Newegg with pricing starting at $530.
Most Maximum PC readers probably associate MSI with motherboards first and netbooks second, but it's the company's server and industrial PC (IPC) businesses the company's banking on to push profits up to a 50 percent on-year growth.
According to MSI's company chairman Joseph Hsu, MSI still managed to make a profit in 2009, despite a significant drop in its server business. With the tech sector looking up in 2010, Hsu expects a big turnaround in 2010.
And it's not just mobos and graphics cards for the IPC industry, either. MSI, some would be surprised to learn, also dabbles in developing medical devices and point of sale (POS) systems, both of which Hsu expects to play a big part in the company's 2010 revenue.
Love it or hate it, the $499 entry level iPad is much cheaper than anyone expected. Tablet PC makers which were hoping to ride the wave of enthusiasm Apple was bound to kick up, are now being forced to step back and really question if they have what it takes to compete. Unnamed sources from within Asus and MSI claim they were counting on an iPad that would debut at $1,000 or more, making room for a more powerful and open device for $200-$300 less. Now that the new price to beat is less than half of what they expected, they will need to determine how they will differentiate if they can't win on price.
Apple made a lot of questionable decisions in the design of its new tablet, but its difficult to argue with their business intuition. They clearly understand that in order to create and hold on to early adopters, they will need to lock as many people as possible into the iTunes application ecosystem, even if that means sacrificing their usual fat margins to do it. They are willing to risk making a small profit on the entry level device with the hope that they might convince you to upgrade to a more expensive model when you reach the store, and if all else fails, make up any lost revenue when you come back for accessories or hit up the iTunes store.
The iPad has some pretty serious limitations, sure, but can a $500 tablet PC running Windows 7 really take on Apple?