MSI debuts MacBook Air rival, new netbook in U.S.

The X-Slim 340 is only a millimeter thicker than the MacBook Air, and it's one of the first laptops on the market to use Intel's new ultra-low-power chips

Micro-Star International (MSI) launched an ultra-thin laptop to rival the MacBook Air in the United States on Tuesday, as well as a new netbook with Intel's latest microprocessor for the devices.

The Taiwanese company's X-Slim 340 comes with a 13-inch screen, runs Windows Vista Home, and comes with one change compared to previous announcements: It uses a low-power Intel Core 2 Solo processor instead of an Atom microprocessor as originally planned.

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The X-Slim 340 is one of the first laptops on the market to use one of Intel's new ultra-low-power chips, which carry the moniker CULV for consumer ultra-low voltage.

A nice add-on for the X-Slim 340 is an optional external Blu-ray disc drive or DVD SuperMulti drive.

The laptops are aimed at the same portable space that netbooks have taken, but meant for people who want a larger screen and more processing power. They're also very thin, just 6mm at the thinnest point and 20mm at the thickest point, which is where several connectors can be found, including USB, HDMI, headphone, microphone, D-Sub Video Out, and LAN port.

Apple's MacBook Air is 4mm thick at its thinnest point and 19mm at its thickest, by comparison.

The X-Slim 340 comes with a 4-cell battery as standard and the potential for 7 hours of runtime, according to MSI. An 8-cell battery is also available.

Several wireless technologies are available on the devices, including Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth and WiMax modules can be added.

MSI also launched an update to its netbook line with the Wind U100 PLUS.

The new netbook comes with a new Intel Atom N280 microprocessor, which runs at 1.66GHz and a higher-frequency 667MHz bus compared to 533MHz on the older N270. Asustek Computer is one of the only companies currently selling a netbook with an Atom N280 chip, the Asus 1000HE netbook.

The Wind U100 PLUS sports a 10-inch screen with 600-by-1,024 resolution, runs Microsoft's Windows XP Home, has a 160GB hard disc drive, and works with several wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth.

It comes standard with a 3-cell battery but can be upgraded to a 6-cell.

Pricing information for the X-Slim 340 and the Wind U100 PLUS was not immediately available.

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