LAS VEGAS -- Here at the CTIA cellular phone show the newest and shiniest items get all the attention. Usually that means cellp hones and associated items. But every once and a while, something other than a cell phone jumps out at you and you know it's going to be big.

We're talking about a new super-thin portable computer from Taiwanese company MSI. It was one of the first companies to make those tiny netbook computers -- mini-laptops with small screens, small processors, small amounts of memory and attractively low prices.

Over the past year, the netbooks started out as little computers that ran Linux on small 7-inch diagonal screens. The Asus Eee and subsequent offerings from Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), Lenovo, Dell ( DELL) and others started flooding the market. Features began to multiply. Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows XP became an option. Then screens grew to 9 inches, then 10. You get the idea.

But now MSI is taking its netbook expertise and parlaying it into two amazing thin laptops. The new X320 and X340 notebooks sport 13.4-inch diagonal screens. These ultra-portables weigh in at 2.8 pounds and are slim, sleek and beautiful. They almost strike you of being Apple ( AAPL) MacBook Air portable cool.

The X320 runs on the 1.6GHz Intel ( INTC) Atom Z530 processor and sports a 2.5-inch, 250GB thin hard drive. The X340 is one of the first computers to run Intel's brand new CULV SU3500 processor which claims to use one-sixth the power of a regular mobile CPU and has a 320 GB hard drive inside.

Both models measure 8.8 by 12.9 by 0.7 inches and will run on Microsoft Windows XP Home Premium. They are available in silver, white or black. Both also have 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity but the X320 also can have an optional 3G/4G-WiMAX radio inside. The models come standard with a four-cell rechargeable battery. A longer-life eight-cell battery pack is optional.

Prices start in the neighborhood of $1,000, which is much higher than a netbook, but much lower than some of the other high-profile, super-thin, lightweight notebooks from others. MSI X-Slim models will be available in the U.S. beginning in May.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.

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