MSI Slider S20 Windows 8 Ultrabook hands-on (video)

It's been a while since we've heard from MSI. Sure, the company is still into gaming laptops, but remember that this is a company that once dominated the netbook space alongside the likes of ASUS and Acer. Well, netbooks are dead, and the company never really embraced tablets, the thing that replaced them. At some point along the line, MSI more or less stepped away from the mobile game.

That might be changing. If the company missed the boat on tablets, it's definitely not going to sit out the Ultrabook craze: the company recently announced the Slider S20, an upcoming Windows 8 ultraportable whose 11-inch touchscreen can be pushed back and up -- yes, just like that Slider. We happened to stumble across one on display here at Computex, and naturally did what any self-respecting group of tech writers would do: we took lots and lots of photos. You'll find them all just below, and our hands-on with video continues after the break.%Gallery-156998%

Look and feel

As much as we prize gadgets made of metal, there's something to be said for the plastic ones. Case in point, the S20: though the build quality is nothing special, it feels light and manageable in the hands, which is saying a lot, really, when you're talking about a laptop hybrid with a complicated sliding mechanism and a screen that's larger than what you'll find on most tablets. As for that slider, it feels fine-tuned: smooth, but not so loose that you'd question its sturdiness.

Taking a tour around the device, you'll see a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and Ethernet. Considering how many PC makers give wired Internet and HDMI-out the axe when designing Ultrabooks, we'd say this was a pleasant surprise.


Like the ASUS Eee Pad Slider, which has essentially the same form factor, the S20 makes do with a cramped keyboard, precisely because propping the screen up causes you to lose so much deck space. In this case, the keys seem well spaced enough that we think we could get by, but there's definitely some noticeable flex in the panel. It hearkens back to the netbook era, and not in a good way.

Display, performance and basic specs

No surprises when it comes to the display. The S20 has an 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) screen -- a common size and pixel count for Windows 8 tablets. Though MSI isn't sharing too many details about the specs (RAM, storage, etc.) we at least know it runs third-generation Core processors (read: Ivy Bridge). Of course, it's tough for us to judge the performance when all we have to handle is a prototype, but we came away fairly impressed by how quickly the built-in accelerometer responded when we adjusted the screen orientation. The screen itself also feels responsive, and we had a smooth time swiping and tapping our way through Win8's Metro UI.

Zach Honig contributed to this report.