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Samsung X360 13.3in Notebook - World Exclusive - Display, Keyboard & Build Quality
Like the Air and Lenovo's all-conquering ThinkPad X300, the X360 is built around a 13.3in display. It's a form factor that has exploded in popularity over the last year or so and though the likes of the Sony VAIO TZ and its replacement the VAIO TT (review coming soon) still sit atop the portable rankings due to their 11.1in screens, a 13.3in has some obvious benefits if you don't get on with small screens and compressed keyboards.
Samsung's effort has a par for the course 1,280 x 800 native resolution and though this is probably ideal for its intended market, the tech snob within us can't help but pine after something roomier. If the display doesn't sport a high resolution, one thing it can boast is brightness. Like most LED displays at full brightness it's still just about viewable in strong sunlight, even with its glossy finish, while text is razor sharp and very readable.
Regrettably not everything about the X360's screen is quite so complimentary. Bright it may be but the screen also comes across as slightly watery. Low saturation colours are poorly handled, colours lack vibrancy and there's noticeable banding in gradients. Viewing angles are also fairly mediocre and though all this doesn't prevent it from producing a reasonable performance in videos and photos, as a whole it's not in the same league as the likes of the Sony VAIO Z11WN - our runner-up in the portable notebook category of our Annual Awardsthis year.
No such complaints can be made of the keyboard. As seems tradition in designer machines like this, Samsung has employed an isolated style keyboard and it's an absolute peach. Keys have just the right amount of travel and feature a nice, light and crisp action that makes typing effortless.
This is combined with a more or less faultless layout. There's a large and friendly UK style Return key, the cursor keys are slightly withdrawn and more or less every key is where it ought to be. In fact, the only deviation from UK convention is the backslash key, which is on the right to make room for a larger left Shift key, but this has more or less no impact on normal typing.
This excellent keyboard is reflective of the overall build quality of the X360, too. Creaking and bendy panels are nowhere to be seen and though the screen hinge could be a little stiffer, it has a smooth and reassuring action that inspires some confidence. Likewise, the touchpad buttons have a firm and positive action and all told we can't really fault Samsung in this regard.