Image courtesy of MSI

Image courtesy of MSI

Image courtesy of MSI

Shanghai from the Oriental Pearl TV Tower
DailyTech goes to China

DailyTech was invited to China last week by MSI Electronics for a tour of its Kunshan production facilities. MSI flew me and around 40 other journalists from around the world to Shanghai, China for the occasion. I arrived a day early on Monday September 11th, 2006 and had a free day to sight see and embrace Chinese culture. Amusingly everyone assumed I was Chinese and spoke Chinese to me, though I’m Vietnamese.

After the sightseeing MSI’s held its welcoming dinner with a dragon dance, contortionists and kung-fu performances. There were also ring-toss games for random MSI swag and a team game. The team game was more of a grab whatever they tell you to and put it on the table type of game. I was picked the team/table leader and my table won. Fun was had by all.

Tuesday was the MSI factory tour. MSI loaded up the 40 journalists on two busses for an hour long bus ride to the Kunshan production facilities. Upon arrival we all sat down for the usual MSI presentations. The presentations gave a rundown of MSI’s history, concepts and products, which was quite interesting. MSI was founded by five engineers that worked for Sony’s PC division back in the ‘80’s. Since Sony didn’t see personal computers being the way of the future the PC division was canned and the five engineers could either be transferred to another division or quit.

The five engineers chose the latter and started the company with their future wedding money. They were all single at the time so all was fine and dandy. The first two years were quite rough until MSI developed a 286 motherboard that could overclock. This saved MSI from failing like other companies. From then on MSI grew to produce video cards, barebones, servers, notebooks, consumer electronics and communications products. To this day the five engineers that founded MSI are still friends and working together.

Moving onto conceptual products MSI is working on using solar technology to extend battery life for notebooks and portable electronics. This is still in its conceptual stages and will be quite a while till it is available to consumers. Presentations on MSI’s products and Dual CoreCell were also given and pretty straightforward.

After the presentations came the factory tours. We toured two production lines that manufacturer’s motherboards and notebooks. The motherboard production line was first. It was a very clean and tidy production facility with a workforce of primarily female workers. Every worker was extremely focused and speedy with assembling connectors, checking traces, running QA etc… Everything was pretty straightforward yet I’m still amazed by how focused and how fast the production line workers worked.

The notebook production line was the last stop at MSI’s factory. Notebooks are assembled in two separate production lines. The notebook motherboard is produced in one area while system assembly is done in another. Motherboard assembly was similar to the regular desktop assembly. System assembly was done beginning with the top portion with the LCD than the lower portion.

The rest of the day after the factory tour involved eating and site seeing. MSI held a workshop Wednesday morning for its consumer electronics and notebook products. A pretty straight forward presentations, though MSI has an interesting MP3 player concept. The interesting MP3 player concept had a language learning mode which would record your voice and compare it to a reference sound file, similar to The Rosetta Stone language learning application, albeit handheld. This function can be used to learn English or foreign languages. The only barrier keeping this from being more widespread is a source to obtain compatible language files. Nevertheless it’s still an interesting concept.

MSI’s notebook product lineup was the last presentation of the trip. The product roadmap listed upcoming Santa Rosa and ATI RS690 based notebooks. ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 for Intel chipset based notebooks were nowhere on the roadmap which isn’t too surprising considering the recent AMD and ATI merger.

After the presentation I was able to get some hands-on time with a couple MSI notebooks. I have to say I was quite impressed with the build and material quality. The notebooks were very sturdy with very little flex. Hinges on all the notebooks were quite solid and held on securely. With the hands-on experience and watching the notebooks being manufactured I have a greater sense of security and faith in MSI notebooks

Lastly was a gaming tournament feature F.E.A.R. on MSI gaming notebooks. I never played the game before in my life but managed to get 5th overall, surprisingly. Nevertheless the MSI notebooks performed decently in F.E.A.R. with its GeForce Go 7600’s.

There was more sightseeing and eating afterwards but that essentially concludes MSI’s Media Tour 2006 event. DailyTech would like to thank MSI for flying us out to China and showing us around.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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