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MSI PR210 review: MSI PR210


Michelle Thatcher Former Senior Associate Editor, Laptops
Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Michelle Thatcher
4 min read

Available in blue, pink, and green, the MSI PR210 seems destined to appeal to users who aren't excited by the looks of 12.1-inch systems from Lenovo and Toshiba but still want a relatively portable laptop. The PR210's attractive metallic cover and full feature set certainly seem a steal for its list price of $1,000. In fact, our primary complaint about the bulky ultraportable lies in its superbudget AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor, which failed to exceed the middling performance of the less-expensive Averatec 2371. The trade-off for pokey performance is battery life--the PR210 lasted an impressive three hours on our drain tests. For most users the MSI PR210's good looks and lengthy battery make up for its slight price premium, though the budget-conscious should note that the Averatec 2371 offers many of the same features for $100 less.



The Good

Inexpensive; lengthy battery life; choice of case colors; TV tuner and HDMI port; two-year warranty.

The Bad

Underpowered AMD CPU limits performance; heavier than similar laptops; overly reflective screen.

The Bottom Line

The colorful, 12.1-inch MSI PR210 offers a decent feature set and great battery life, but at least one similar laptop costs less.

Price $1,000
Processor 1.7GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 TK-53
Memory 1GB of 333MHz
Hard drive 120GB at 5,400rpm
Chipset ATI RS690T/SB600
Graphics ATI Radeon Xpress 1270
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Dimensions (wide x deep x thick) 11.9x9.1x1.1 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 12.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 4.6 / 5.4 pounds
Category ultraportable

Weighing 4.6 pounds and featuring a 12.1-inch screen, the MSI PR210 is either a small thin-and-light or a bulky ultraportable laptop. Physically, it resembles both the Lenovo 3000 V200 and the Toshiba Satellite U205, though the MSI weighs more than both of those models. Regardless of how you categorize it, the PR210's metal-and-plastic case feels remarkably sturdy (which could account for its weight).

The MSI PR210 is fairly comfortable to use; though its keyboard looks cheap, it's actually very comfortable for long stretches of typing. The 12.1-inch wide-screen display features a sharp 1,280x800 native resolution that's great for watching movies and provides plenty of real estate for typical home uses. Our only complaint about the screen concerns its glossy finish, which is among the most reflective we've seen. The gloss makes images and colors pop, but is almost mirrorlike in all but the darkest environments.

  MSI PR210 Average for ultraportable category
Video VGA-out, HDMI, Webcam and mic VGA-out
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks, line-in Headphone/microphone jacks
Data Three USB 2.0, multiformat memory card reader Two USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD or multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard PC Card or ExpressCard
Networking modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner None, or DVD burner

We certainly wouldn't expect to see an HDMI port on a laptop of this size, but the MSI PR120 has one if you need it. We were also surprised to see a connection for a TV antenna along the laptop's right side. Otherwise, the system offers a fairly typical selection of ports and connections for a large-size ultraportable laptop. As an added bonus, our review unit shipped with a color-coordinating padded carry case and a matching USB mouse.

We weren't surprised to see that the PR210 trailed other systems on the Multimedia multitasking portion of CNET Labs' benchmarks--after all, it's built on a low-cost and low-performance AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor. Nevertheless, like any dual-core laptop, the PR210 can handle common Web surfing, office applications, and basic multitasking with little, if any, stuttering or slowdown.

The trade-off for not-quite chart-topping performance: battery life. The PR210's six-cell battery lasted just more than three hours on our taxing DVD drain test. That's quite a bit longer than similarly configured systems and rather impressive for a laptop of this size. Our DVD drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect a bit more uptime with typical use.

In an unusual move for a provider of low-cost laptops, MSI backs the PR210 with a two-year warranty--twice as long as the industry standard. Extensions are available, though the company Web site makes it difficult to determine how you can purchase one or how much they cost. Fortunately, the company site is much more clear when it comes to support: the PE210 product page includes easy links to FAQs, drivers, and manuals.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.7GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TK-53; 900MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon Xpress 1270; 120GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Fujitsu Lifebook V1010
Windows Vista Business Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM/GU Express Chipset; 120GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Acer TravelMate 6291
Windows Vista Business Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM/GU Express Chipset; 120GB Seagate Momentus 5,400rpm

Averatec 2371
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce Go 6100; 120GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio VGN-NR160
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Intel Mobile Express 965GM; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm



Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6Battery 8Support 6