Notebooks Guide

MSI Slidebook S20 (11.6-inch) review

MSI Slidebook S20 (11.6-inch) - Slide-out Ultrabook

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Launch SRP S$1599

Overall rating 8/10
Design:
7.5
Features:
8
Performance:
8.5
Value:
8
Mobility:
8.5
THE GOOD
Good build quality
Full HD, IPS display
Battery life
Speedy real-world performer
Most affordable convertible Ultrabook
THE BAD
No trackpad or trackpoint inputs
Cramped keyboard
Display vulnerable to damage
Bad placement of power button
Windows button too small


A Pretty Good Attempt

A Pretty Good Attempt

We must say that MSI did a pretty good job with the Slidebook S20. Its performance is good, while its battery life is even better. Build quality also didn’t cause any usage issues, although we’d prefer if more of the device was constructed from more premium materials. While it's just a wish, we also understand that would drive up the costs considerably and MSI's choice of a metal underbelly along with a rigid plastic front makes a decent go-between for the Slidebook S20's price point.

However, we also have to add that MSI’s choice of form factor wasn’t the best. Due to its sliding mechanism and size, there wasn’t any room for a trackpad, which made it difficult at times for precision input without adding an external mouse. Further to that, we did encounter an instance where the display wasn’t able to accurately register our touch inputs in a full screen game launched in the desktop environment. We can’t be entirely sure if it’s the app’s fault, or the drivers for the machine wasn’t equipped to handle such a situation with finesse. Interested buyers should personally test the machine out as tolerance levels for input sensitivity differs from one user to another. Apart from that scenario, the multi-touch display worked perfectly. Other small niggling aesthetic-related concerns exist that we documented in the first couple of pages, but they aren't deal-breakers, especially with the S20's price point.

At $1599, it’s definitely one of the most affordable 11-inch convertible Windows 8 notebooks out in the market now. With a good build and performance, the Slidebook S20 ranked well where it counts most. If it weren’t for some of the limitations sighted above, we’d highly recommend it to users looking for a dual-purpose small and light Ultrabook for working on the go. However, if you’ve trialed the unit you’re getting, and can work around with just the touchscreen and keyboard inputs, then the S20 would suit you just fine.

It's also an ideal choice for those who can't make up their minds if they would like convertible notebooks that work like tablets but have an add-on keyboard (like the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro), or as notebook with a complimentary tablet mode (like the Lenovo Yoga 13). With the MSI Slidebook S20, you get a device that's more of notebook that's built around the tablet form factor and you have easy access to a keyboard while you use the device as a tablet or as a notebook.

While shopping for the MSI Slidebook S20, take note that there's another slim notebook called the MSI S30. This is not a convertible Ultrabook, so it's just a word of caution to avoid confusion if you think it belongs to the Slidebook series too.