When it comes to stylish notebooks, it's usually Sony or Apple that spring to mind, but in recent years Samsung has made some significant headway in this market. Take the super-sexy Q30 for example - a notebook that's thin, light and looks superb. However, not everyone wants an ultra-portable notebook, but most people still want a machine that looks cool. Samsung's solution to this conundrum is the X50, and I have to say it ticks pretty much all the right boxes.
The X50 looks pretty cool, finished in matt silver and a black accent at the front of the lid. The lid is adorned with a Samsung logo, while the cryptic "digital freedom" message that I last saw on the Samsung X10 Plus is still in evidence. The lid is secured by two hooks, but there's a single catch in the centre, so it's easy to open with one hand.
When you open the lid you're faced with one of the best assets of this machine, a 15.4in widescreen display. Of course the size of the screen is only part of the equation; it's the resolution that really counts. All too often I've seen notebooks with large screens let down by a low desktop resolution, but thankfully the the X50 doesn't fall foul of this issue. With a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 this screen offers an impressive amount of desktop real estate - more in fact than a 19in desktop TFT monitor. The screen doesn't have a high contrast coating, but it does still produce a bright and well resolved image. If you're looking for a notebook that can be used as your sole PC, the screen on the X50 definitely puts it in the running.
Of course when it comes to ergonomics, the keyboard is just as important as the screen and clearly Samsung is aware of this. I'm not saying that this is the best keyboard I've ever used, because it's not, but it is a pretty good example. Don't expect the keyboard to have the same high-quality oozing from it as an IBM ThinkPad keyboard, but I was able to achieve a near full speed typing rate on it just the same. The keys are full size, and there's a reasonable amount of travel. The spring back in the keys is pretty strong too, so your fingers are launched back up at the end of each keystroke, ready to attack the next one. The Return, Shift, Tab, Backspace and Caps Lock keys are all large and easy to strike, while the Spacebar is also large and located far enough from the touchpad to avoid accidental cursor movement.
The touchpad is slightly recessed from the wrist rest, also finished in matt silver. The right side of the touchpad is used for scrolling up and down through documents and web pages, and unlike many other notebook manufacturers, Samsung has actually labelled the touchpad to indicate that it has this feature. Below the touchpad are the left and right selector buttons, and between them nestles a rather interesting feature.