3vi1
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2008-11-26T18:57:31Z

I bought my wife a new MSI GX630 Laptop this past weekend:

 

Conclusion:

For the price, this is a good buy.  It has power to spare for most games and apps.  You do have to live with a few caveats, though.

 

Pros:

1)  This thing is fast, and quiet!  AFTER you get past the initial setup of Vista, you're not likely to be waiting on it too much.

 

Cons:

1)  There's no way to disable click on the touchpad!  There's no utility that lets you configure the touchpad at all.  Searches of MSI's site turn up nothing.

2)  While on MSI's site, I decided to register it.  There's no discernable serial number on the bottom of the unit, and MSI's "How to determin your make, model, serial... etc." link turns up a 404 page not found.

3)  Even at it's form-factor, this thing has a full numeric keypad.  That might be great... for some games... but it means that they had to reduce the size of many keys.  Like, the right shift key:  It's the size of a normal key!  This made me miss it several times while getting used to the laptop.  Inexplicably, they added a SECOND half-width pipe/backslash key to the right of the up-arrow.  The keyboard would have been much better if they had shifted the arrows down a row and accepted the fact that not all keys would fit in a rectangular region.

 

Other thoughts:

I used to be one of those people that hated Vista indiscriminantly based solely upon the experiences related by others.  Now, I hate Vista due to first-hand experience.

I've only used the laptop for about five hours total, but I've crashed Vista three times.  I can crash the entire OS, just by playing a particular MPEG I had recorded of my son in the latest Media Player (VLC works fine).  I crashed the entire system another time by copying Sims2 saves from another system without clearing the cache files.

I *despise* the dumbed-down lack of menu options in Vista.  I was trying to copy all documents that I had save to an external drive, and there's no "select all" menu option.  Or menu, for that matter.  I found that by changing the type of view, Ctrl-A would work in some views... but how is the average user supposed to know that???

My wife made some movies of the kids with our Sony Handycam DVR.  She stopped and started recording five times, with no setting changes in between.  Upon importing the movies, Windows Movie Maker declared two of them couldn't be read due to their audio format.  :\

At least my son's first recital didn't have that problem (he started learning guitar two months back).

 

[View:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuVojbxxXxk]

 

At any rate, I give the laptop a thumbs-up - and it will only get better if MSI releases a touchpad utility.

recoveringknowitall
2008-11-26T19:57:13Z

Nice review!

Your son's a lil stud... great playin!!! [H]

bob_on_the_cob
2008-11-26T21:12:51Z

Your sons rocking up there! If you hold shift when you right click in vista it gives you some more options.

3vi1
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2008-11-26T22:09:12Z

bob_on_the_cob wrote:

Your sons rocking up there! If you hold shift when you right click in vista it gives you some more options.

Well, *that's* intuitive, I guess I was completely wrong.

tanka12345
2008-11-29T06:05:47Z

Nice, informative review, keep it up!

3vi1
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2009-01-16T15:39:15Z

Thought I'd post a follow-up for anyone else who bought this laptop:  I figured out how to disable tap-to-click on the oversensitive pad!

I had assumed the pad was a Sentelic, since that's what a lot of posts on various forums said - and the system came with no drivers.  It may be entirely possible that some GX630's shipped with Sentelics and some with Synaptics, and that is the reason no drivers are installed in the Vista image.

BUT... I downloaded and installed the latest Synaptics drivers - AND THEY WORK.

And not a second too soon.... my wife was getting totally frustrated with the system because the hyper-sensitive touchpad is so close to the keyboard that it's practically impossible not to accidentally hit the touchpad ever once in a while when you're typing.

Whew....

bob_on_the_cob
2009-01-17T17:46:26Z

Hows the system other than that? I dropped my Aspire one and killed the hard drive.[:(] But it's running fedora off of a USB stick just fine.

3vi1
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2009-01-17T21:05:03Z

Hardware-wise, it's relatively powerful.  I dislike the keyboard layout, and the mouspad is too close to the keyboard, but it's useable once you kill the tap-to-click.  If I were going to type on it a lot at home, I'd get a docking station so that I could use another keyboard.

Of course, it comes with Vista.  I'm sure that's a plus for many people, but I find the interface more annoying than previous versions of Windows.  It comes with "demo" AV software, which I'll need to replace any day now.  It also comes with one of those "trial" versions of MS Office which I immediately replaced with OpenOffice (which does everything the wife needs for college).

If I were buying again, I would look really hard at the keyboard layout of competing models.  I never had a laptop with a poorly designed keyboard layout before (and I've been through about 8 laptops at work over the years), so it was suprising to me that it was not better thought out.

kallenyc
2009-07-30T07:13:02Z

I just bought an MSI GX720 and found your review because I was also searching for the serial number on my computer to register it.  Turns out you have to remove the battery and it's on a label in the battery compartment.  Totally agree with you about the keyboard layout being poorly thought out (and I'm writing this 8 months after your review so progress isn't overwhelming on MSI's part).  In comparison to my 4.5 yr old Dell Inspiron 9200 (which the MSI laptop is replacing), I have to press the keys on the MSI much harder.  I find myself missing letters often because I don't press hard enough.  The shortened right shift key is a killer. Another thing I have done is accidentally closed my browser tabs when adjusting the screen brightness because the function key for closing a tab is right next to the function key for decreasing the brightness; instead of the function key labels being in white on the black keys, they're in red and blue which make them difficult to see without leaning forward and close to the keyboard.  The overly sensitive touchpad is making me crazy, and I've been using this machine for less than one day.  Already in this review, I've probably had 9 involuntary cursor shifts due to the overly sensitive touchpad.  I'm going to call MSI about it to see if there's some utility out there to help but will otherwise look into the Synaptics touchpad drivers like you recommended in one of your later posts.  It's possible I may return the computer because of the keyboard as I do a decent enough amount of typing.  Also, as an fyi, I contacted MSI by email 3 times and left 3 voicemail messages after not being able to get through to live help after multiple tries trying to inquire if the computer was eligibile for the free Windows 7 upgrade.  Someone called me back yesterday which is a 9-day turnaround from my first attempt over a 3 day barrage.  When calling live, I probably spent about 3 hrs on hold in total with my calls lasting about 20-30 mins before something came up and I had to disconnect.  One time, I was using a 90-minute phone card and it expired before anyone answered. Other than the keyboard (and slow customer service), I do like this machine a lot! It's lightning fast, super cool looking and the display is amazing.