MSI X370 to be upgraded to AMD E-450 Fusion APU, we go hands-on

AMD is presently detailing a rather extensive overhaul of its Fusion APU line here at Computex, including the promise of Llano-based computers becoming available in the next few weeks. One of the devices that's set to get the upgrade treatment is MSI's skinny X370 laptop, a 13-incher with 1366 x 768 resolution and the current-gen 1.6GHz E-350 Zacate processor inside. The intel about its future upgrade to a 1.65GHz E-450 chip came from Notebook Italia and was confirmed for us by folks at both AMD and MSI's booths here at the show. We don't yet have the full details on what the next E-450 processor will be like exactly, but we gathered together a gallery of pictures of the X370, which recently started shipping for $579. We were told to expect the refreshed model in either the third or fourth quarter of this year. If your interest has been piqued, jump past the break for some hands-on impressions.

The X370 doesn't have the most restrained of exterior designs, coming with chrome accents, a super glossy lid, and a textured wrist rest, but we're happy with its overall build quality. Its touchpad felt great under the finger, striking the right balance between a grippy surface and smooth motion. There's also a nice multitouch implementation, including going back and forth between webpages using two-finger swipes. Underneath the finger-friendly area, there's one of those dreaded single-piece mouse button arrangements where you get a left-click by depressing the left side and a right-click by praying to the appropriate tech deity. It's actually not too bad, there's plenty of travel to either side of the key, but we did find ourselves hitting the dead area between the two mouse "buttons." As to the keyboard, we found it enjoyable to type on, though a couple of issues did arise. On the positive side, the keys are well spaced, shaped and sized, allowing for a natural typing experience. They remind us an awful lot to the ones we'd previously used on HP's ProBook line. Less happy news is that the right Shift key is shrunken to accommodate a roomier arrow array (something we never like to see on laptops) and the keyboard exhibited quite a bit of flex.

1366 x 768 resolution is getting to be somewhat old hat in the 13-inch and above category, but we had few complaints about the x370's display quality. Viewing angles are decent and color saturation and vibrancy looked good enough under the intense glare of the trade show lights. Perhaps screen brightness was turned all the way up to achieve that, but a quick peek at Windows' battery life predictor left us disappointed. With 98 percent of the battery's charge remaining, the X370 promised us only two hours and 25 minutes of operation. At the time, we had a promo video from AMD paused in the background, but that's still underwhelming given the appeal of these Fusion APUs is supposed to be in their longevity. Let's hope the E-450 fares a little better in that department, eh?