Samsung X360

Above the keyboard on the right is a round power button that glows, you guessed it, blue when the machine is on. Above the keyboard to the left are indicator lights for Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock, while at the edge of the wrist rest on the left are lights for HDD activity, wireless activation, charge and power. Above the screen you'll find a 1.3-megapixel webcam, which will be ideal for Skype video calls when you're away on business.

Below the Spacebar is a wide touchpad for pointer manipulation. Once again, Samsung is right on the money with the touchpad, which is beautifully tactile and makes for incredibly accurate pointing. As is customary, the right and bottom edges of the touchpad can be used for scrolling vertically or horizontally respectively through documents and web pages. On the far right of the wrist rest is a small fingerprint reader for securing your notebook, assuming you don't have a memory for passwords.

Samsung is targeting the X360 squarely at the road warrior type, and as such has specced a dual core Intel SU9300 ultra-low-voltage CPU running at 1.2GHz. This chip utilises an 800MHz FSB, which is a big jump over the previous ULV 1.2GHz chip that ran on a 533MHz bus, but still a way behind the full fat chips that use a 1066MHz FSB. The chip has 3MB of cache on board, while Samsung has backed it up with 3GB of DDR3 RAM. The latter is good sense, since the Windows Vista Business operating system is only 32-bit, which means it can't address memory above 3.2GB. Hopefully we'll see notebooks starting to appear running 64-bit Vista, then memory complements of 4GB or more will actually be useful.

The X360's real party piece comes in the form of its storage solution - a 128GB solid state disk. Of course there are other notebooks available with 128GB SSDs, but Samsung has managed to squeeze one in and still keep the X360 very competitively priced. If you’re not bothered by the intrinsic advantages of solid state storage, you can also buy an X360 with a traditional 120GB hard drive and save yourself a couple of hundred pounds. My advice though, would be to go for the full Monty 128GB SSD version - you know it makes sense.

Unlike the MacBook Air, which ships with no form of optical drive, and expects customers to pay extra for the privilege of having one, Samsung ships an external USB super-multi DVD writer in the box. This drive will write to pretty much every DVD standard, including DVD-RAM, as well as CD-R and CD-RW. Not only is this useful for backing up important data and burning music CDs, it also allows you to install software onto the X360 - something that's not easily done on a MacBook Air, unless you have a spare USB DVD writer hanging around.

Connectivity is extensive, with 802.11a, b, g and n on the menu, with the latter allowing for lightning fast network speeds, assuming that you have a suitably equipped router at home or in the office. Add to that Bluetooth 2.0+EDR for hooking up your mobile phone, headset, external speakers etc.

There’s no HSDPA in the first batch of X360 machines, but Samsung has assured me that it will be an option with future models. This option can’t come too soon, with both Sony and Lenovo offering integrated HSDPA in their flagship ultra-portables. Of course the MacBook Air doesn’t offer integrated HSDPA either, so the X360 isn’t losing any ground to its main rival there, although the Apple machine also doesn’t even have an Ethernet controller, while Samsung has included Gigabit Ethernet in the X360.

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