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Samsung X360

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A few weeks ago at IFA, Samsung announced its latest, notebook computer. Billed as "Lighter than air" there was no doubt that Samsung had Apple's under-featured ultra-portable firmly in its sights, and as the Korean giant started to reveal the specification of its new machine, it looked like the MacBook Air would be woefully outgunned. Of course MacBook Air buyers are generally more interested in looking cool while drinking a coffee in Starbucks, than whether or not their notebook has any connectivity. However, if you are concerned with what your ultra-portable notebook can do, rather than just how cool it looks, Samsung's X360 could be just what you're looking for.

Despite the fact that Samsung's latest notebook sounds more like a high definition gaming console, it has a huge amount going for it. First up, it is, as billed, lighter than air - or at least the MacBook Air. Samsung has quoted an official weight of 1.29kg, which is slightly heavier than the 1.27kg that was mentioned at the IFA pres conference. However, even taking the slightly heavier weight into account, the X360 is still lighter than the MacBook Air, which weighs in at 1.36kg.

Of course Apple still has the edge when it comes to thickness, with the MacBook Air measuring 325 x 227 x 19.4mm (WxDxH), compared to 311 x 228 x 31mm for the X360. The question is whether having a notebook that's only 2cm thick outweighs it having so few features. Personally I could live with the X360's 3cm girth, considering what that slight increase affords me when it comes to features.

Of course, specs, weights and measurements only go so far, and with a device like a notebook computer, much depends on what the machine is like to use. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that even though I'm in no way a fan of the MacBook Air, when I've had occasion to use one, it does have a feel of quality about it - although the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 still beats it hands down in my book. Therefore, when Samsung offered to give me me a pre-production sample of the X360 for evaluation, I jumped at the chance.

The sample that I have in front of me right now is the most low-key model, in that it is all black. When closed the X360 looks great - the lid is one third glossy, piano black plastic, and two thirds brushed aluminium. As well as the all black aluminium panel seen here, red and red to black gradation versions will also be offered. The mirror finish Samsung logo adds to the understated style, although it would have been good to see it backlit like Apple's notebooks, and even the latest generation of HP models.

Opening up the claspless lid reveals an interior that's every bit as stylish as the exterior, if not more so. Samsung has carried on the piano black theme inside too, with the screen bezel, wrist rest and keyboard surround all looking suitably sumptuous. Of course you'll have to keep wiping those inevitable finger and palm prints off, but when this machine is clean, it really does look special.

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