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In the world of notebooks, Apple is an indisputable trend setter. Case in point, the 13-inch Averatec N3400 that we recently reviewed had an aluminum outer shell, while the Acer Timeline 4810T used island-style keys like those found on MacBooks. Not surprisingly, however, those two laptops are considerably less expensive than anything on Apple's product line.

Today we'll be taking a look at the X-Slim X340, a very slim notebook from MSI that's been labeled by many as the budget alternative to the MacBook Air. Currently selling for $600, MSI hopes to lure potential buyers with its svelte design and extended battery life.

The MSI X340 weighs in at only 3.2 pounds with the included 8-cell battery and is powered by Intel's Core 2 Solo SU3500 CULV processor operating at 1.4GHz. It comes equipped with 2GB of DDR2 -- its maximum supported capacity -- a 320GB SATA hard drive, 13.4" LCD display sporting a 1366 x 768 resolution, Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics, and 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity.

These specs are somewhat reminiscent of those found on the 14" Timeline 4810T we reviewed earlier on the month, except for the obvious difference in screen size and the X340's larger battery. It will be interesting to see if the X-Slim can match or perhaps even top the outstanding 6+ hours of battery life on Acer's notebook.

As you may be aware, MSI has been offering the X-Slim X340 since May. Dating back to its launch, the X340 used to sell for as much as $900, which didn't exactly make it a budget contender. Today the same model is sold for substantially less at $600, bringing an interesting buying proposition for this holiday season.