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?
Forget about over-the-top aesthetics and loud color schemes, MSI is having no part of it, at least not with the latest entries to its Classic series notebooks. Instead, MSI's new CX420 and CR420 keep it relatively simple with an "exclusive Cross-Hatch Color Film Print patterning" the company claims gives them a "fashionable appearance."
Looks aside, it's what's on the inside of these 14-inch notebooks that count, and it all begins with Intel's Core i5 platform. The CX420 also sports up to 4GB of DDR3 800 or 1066 memory, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics with a 1GB frame buffer, up to 500GB of HDD storage, a 4-in-1 card reader, 1.3MP webcam, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN, 6- or 9-cell battery, and Windows 7 Home Premium
The CR420 boasts an almost identical spec sheet, except the built-in graphics share the frame buffer with system memory, and the onboard Ethernet LAN tops out at 10/100.
After yesterday's launch, it's hard not to associate the term 'tablet' with Apple's iPad. But if Apple thinks it's going to own the market outright, it better think again. We expect a deluge of tablet PCs to emerge this year and next, including a Tegra-based unit from MSI.
According to MSI sales director Sambora Chen, MSI's tablet will boast a 10-inch color touchscreen with Wi-Fi support. As is the trend, it will be a light-weight unit and ultra-thin, though it won't sacrifice netbook-like capabilities to achieve its portability.
As for the hardware inside, Chen says his company plans on launching different models to fill various market segments, but stopped short of giving any specifics.
Look for MSI to release it's first tablet in the second half of 2010 for $500, the same price as Apple's entry-level iPad.
With the announcement of its Wind U135 'Special Edition Netbook' line, MSI and its entourage of ultraportables arrive fashionably late to the Pine Trail party. 'Special,' in this case, probably refers to the U135's "stylish color film printed case," which MSI claims prevents smudging.
The rest of the U135 is like just about every other Pine Trail netbook we've seen to date. Flying in the Wind is an Intel Atom N450 processor, along with Intel GMA3150 graphics, 1GB of DDR2 memory, 160GB or 250GB hard drive, 802.11b/g/n, 1.3MP webcam, three USB 2.0 ports, a 4-in-1 memory card reader, 3-cell or 6-cell battery, and Windows 7 Starter.
MSI also decked out the U135 series with its now familiar ECO Engine Technology. Exclusive to MSI, this power saving tech allows the user to switch between 5 different power modes -- Gaming, Movie, Presentation, Document, and Turbo Battery -- to extend the life of the battery.
The Wind U135 series is available now for $310-$330.
Remember MSI's Big Bang Fuzion the company announced a couple of weeks ago during CES? If you've been holding out for this board, the wait is over, because it's now available for purchase. The caveat? Newegg's selling it for about $380 shipped, or about half a tank gas short of four C-notes.
Part of the reason for the high price probably has to do with the Lucid Hydra 200 chip. Unlike the regularly used NF200 bridge chip, this one allows users to mix and match different brands of videocards for a multi-GPU gaming boost, as well as cards from different generations. For example, you could combine a GTX 285 with a GTX 250, or run an ATI HD 4890 with Nvidia's GTX 260+ (both of these scenarios were benchmarked at PCPerspective).
Aside from the multi-GPU goodness, the P55-based Fuzion brings to the table Core i7/i5/i3 support, four DDR3-2133(OC) memory slots for up to 16GB of RAM, three PCI-E x16 slots, 8 USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, a pair of eSATA ports, and the usual assortment of goodies (RAID 0/1/5/10, dual LAN ports, etc).
How is that motherboard makers can cram all kinds of innovative technologies onto a motherboard and serve up marketing bullets that will have buyers thinking they're investing in a little slice of Heaven, yet when it comes to naming their creations, all that creativity goes out the window? To quote Bill Belichick, "It is what it is." In any event, meet the newest member of MSI's P55 motherboard family, the P55-GD85.
Built around Intel's P55 chipset, MSI's newest addition brings official support for Intel's 32nm Core i3/i5/i7 processors. It also comes equipped with support for SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0, the latter of which will probably prove more useful during the board's lifespan.
To make sure the board squeezes out every last bit of bandwidth, MSI tossed in a PLX PCI-E bridge chip "to multiply the PCI-E bandwidth as well as most effective distribution when using the functions of SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 functions."
Other features include four DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-2133(OC) memory, a pair of PCI-E x16 ports, two PCI-E x1 ports, an IDE port, seven SATA II ports, two SATA 3 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Firewire, eSATA, and various other odds and ends.
No word yet on price or availability, though if we had to guess, we'd say "soon" and about "$220 street."
According to company chairman Joseph Hsu, MSI has big plans for 2010, primarily with its notebook and all-in-one PC business. Hsu said he expects shipments of the former to jump by 50 percent this year, while he expects to the latter to do the same, if not more.
Meeting those goals might not be too hard to do. MSI's notebook shipments took a serious hit by inventory issues in the first half of 2009, Hsu noted, leaving the company to play catch-up for the rest of the year. Even so, MSI's branded notebook shipments were still higher than those in 2008.
As 2010 rolls along, Hsu said consumers can expect more notebook models with varying specifications, rather than trying to achieve significant shipment volumes with just a handful of models.
Computer maker MSI is showing off some interesting new PC designs at CES this week. First off, MSI is jumping on the 3D craze with a 3D all-in-one PC. The system will, of course, require glasses, but MSI assures us they will be “comfortable”. The PC will have a reasonably sized 24-inch display. This is designed for 3D gaming and movie viewing.
A second all-in-one is a standard LED backlit LCD, but the case has a bit of a trick. This new concept PC allows users to slide up the screen and store the keyboard behind the screen when not in use. The mouse is also a wireless remote and IP phone.
The final new computer is a fairly interesting one, a projector PC. This is a small form factor PC with a projector in the same case. The projector will apparently be capable of HD resolution. There will be an adjustable stand that holds the case up like any PC, then folds down to point the lens at a wall. Keep an eye out should any of these become real products.