The front is a high gloss finish which looks very well, especially under certain lighting conditions. It certainly looks more expensive than the price suggests.
Underneath there is access to a single DIMM slot, which means you can upgrade the 1GB DDR2 module if you feel its not meeting your requirements. 2GB DDR2 modules are very reasonably priced right now so its not an expensive upgrade (around £35 inc vat). The battery is a whopping six cell unit which protrudes from the back by about 2.5 cm.
MSI do offer a slim 3 cell unit but battery life would be significantly lower so we like the fact they have opted for the meatier unit ‘out of the box’. MSI say the 6 Cell unit has a lifespan of 15 hours, but we will investigate this incredible claim later.
MSI haven’t cut corners with the keyboard as I found it a pleasure to work with over the last couple of weeks. I have included a picture of a pound coin over the keys above, so people at home can make an educated judgement in regards to the size of the keys.
I found that typing on this keyboard was relatively good, although I do have big hands and find anything but a full sized IBM style board slows me down, but for the majority of people this will be perfectly usable. There are small ‘bumps’ designed into the trackpad to keep motion tied into a physical feedback system.
The trackpad is rather small and I found my finger running ‘out of space’ quite regularly and I didn’t particularly like the feel of the buttons below it. Multi touch is not supported however MSI have opted to use Sentelic’s finger sensing technology. When you use the bundled software the trackpad can be configured to support both horizontal and vertical scrolling by keeping your finger pressed on the specific part of the pad. There is also support on pad clicking implemented which is useful. Swiping to scroll is very intuitive and I am used to a similar system on Apple’s iPad.
As seen from this image, the U160 is a very slim chassis design and it is attractive from all angles.
The power supply is a small unit which will not prove troublesome to fit into a laptop case – I have pictured it beside a Nokia E71 phone above to give a good indication of the physical dimensions.