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Friday, 04 April 2008 15:45

MSI PR 200 Crystal Edition 12.1-inch review

Written by Fuad Abazovic

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Review: A girl’s best friend


Back in September 2007 we had a chance to play with MSI's PR200 and this time around we got the Crystal edition of the same notebook. You can catch the first review here.

The Crystal edition is painted white and it comes with the MSI logo covered with Swarovski crystals. There is exactly 120 handcrafted crystals on the MSI logo and each bends 360 degrees of Light. It looks cute but it's definitely something that will be more pleasing for the female population.

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Therefore, it will definitely aim at the female population that is more into this sort of stuff. The white color looks really good on the notebook and there are a few changes compared to the traditional PR200 notebook.

The battery and the back of the notebook are now painted in silver gray and this really fits the design. The only significant change compared to the black version of the notebook are the status LEDs that show the power status, battery, Wireless LAN and hard drive. They look better than on the Black version of PR200.

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This model also ships with an 8-cell 4500 mAh battery, which will be enough for roughly four hours of standard browsing and writing work with wireless LAN off. If you really want to get the maximum out of this notebook and tune the brightness down, you will get up to five hours. We managed to do more than two hours of work and three hours of Video which should be enough for most of us.

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The front side still comes with a microphone and headphone plug and my experience has taught me that this can be annoying in an airplane. We hope that the next revision is going to change that.

The display remains the same, this 12.1-inch notebook still comes with crystal clear 1280x800 screen. The brightness is impressive, but like with any other notebook if you set the brightness to 100 percent you will cripple the battery life.

The tested model comes with a T7250 CPU that runs at 2.0GHz and has 1GB Robson flash and 2GB of real DDR2 memory that runs at 533MHz. The CPU is Merom based, still at 65nm and needs 1.2V or less to work. This particular version has 2MB of cache.

This model comes with a rather impressive 250GB hard drive. The downside is that it's a 5400RPM drive, but it still means a lot of storage.

The weakest link in Vista's performance rating test is again the graphics that score 3.5 and dictate the total score. CPU scores 4.9, memory 4.8 while the hard drive scores 5.2. not that these numbers really mean anything, but at least this is some indication of what this baby can do.

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The retail box is very eye pleasing and it comes with a few nice toys inside. First of all, there are two leather pouches for the notebook. The bigger one is obviously for the notebook while the smaller one accommodates small wired Crystal mouse and the power adaptor. Both of them look really nice and they fit into the businesswoman user profile.

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The motherboard is based on Intel's GM965 chipset and don’t expect to play any games on this Intel IGP, but you will be able to watch movies. The Crystal edition comes with DVD RW and has a few nice features such as fingerprint reader and 1.3 Mpixel camera with a wide range microphone.

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The right hand side contains a PC card slot, SD memory card slot, two USB ports, a modem port, HDMI, antenna port for the model that comes with a TV tuner, a fan exhaust and a power adaptor plug. The back side is completely taken up by the battery. Two speakers are hidden behind the hood and Realtek's HD audio chip is responsible the sound.

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On the left hand side you'll find the DVD RW drive, an additional USB, LAN port, Dsub – VGA out and Kensington lock.

This notebook comes with Vista preinstalled and this time the company has enriched its offer with Norton Internet Security and Cyberlink DVD solution preinstalled and it also comes with Microsoft Office 60 day trial. At least it comes with a full version of quite useless Microsoft Works.

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Let’s get back to the notebook itself. Its white keyboard is very comfortable and the white color fits the design. It is much easier to distinguish the blue function marks on the keyboard and to find how do you tune the music or brightness up or down or activate any other option.


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The power button as well as scroll lock, num key and caps lock are glowing in a comfortable shade of blue and there is a P2 button to turn on / off the camera, the one with Wlan symbol for wireless LAN and Bluetooth and P1 that wakes the system up from sleep state.

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The fingerprint reader is a nice toy and it can make you feel more secure. Basically, when you swipe your finger you log in as an user in Vista but the only disappointing part is that when you set your system to hibernate, it won’t prompt for username and pass, which can be dangerous. You need to lock the system and then go to hibernate, which is quite lame. This is a Windows issue, can't really blame it on the PR200.

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Working with this notebook is really comfortable. It feels exactly the same as the plain PR 200, but this time the machine is white and has crystals. Some rough edges from the metal cover of the notebook, next to the power button are softened and generally PR200 Crystal looks a bit more polished than the back version.


Conclusion

We expected that the price of the Crystal edition is going to spoil a generally good feeling and we were surprised. The tested version should retail / e-tail in Europe for €1200. The plain PR 200 edition that we’ve tested here, cost about the same half a year ago, but notebooks did get a bit cheaper over time.

The Crystal edition is for fashion freaks and females are the primary target group going after it. It looks and feels good, but it's not for male / macho types.

The small mouse and the leather sleeve for both notebook and adaptor + mouse is a great idea and generally if you want to catch some attention this is a notebook for you. I guess MSI wants to get the attention of college ladies and businesswomen and both will find PC 200 Crystal edion as a very good choice. There are some alternatives but they will usually cost at least twice more than a rather reasonable €1200.

We can highly recommend it but mainly to the females or metrosexual males.

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Last modified on Friday, 04 April 2008 21:11
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