Samsung X120 (JA01UK) - 11.6in CULV Laptop - Samsung X120 (JA01UK)

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Subjectively the performance of the X120 is very good. Its dual-core processor and Windows 7 combine for snappy general use that rarely falters. Most importantly, though, it can handle all forms of video thrown at it. We had no problem playing 720p and 1080p H.264 and VC-1 encoded videos in Windows Media Player 12, which now supports GPU acceleration for all of the above. CPU utilisation varies depending on the codec and bit-rate, hitting as high as 30 to 40 per cent for very high bit-rate VC-1 to as little as five per cent when dealing with H.264 HD trailers. Flash video isn't accelerated yet, but the CPU can handle it on its own so there are no problems there, either.

This excellent subjective performance is borne out in our benchmarks. Compared to the Medion Akoya E3211, which uses the single-core variant of the CPU found in the X120, the Samsung is more or less bang on twice as fast overall. This might seem like an obvious correlative, but twice as many cores doesn't always equate to twice the performance. Acer's dual-core netbook, the Ferrari One, is also bested to the tune of 30 per cent, though it remains an outstanding performer when compared to its genuine peers.

Despite its prowess, though, any CULV laptop - particularly one as portable as the X120 - will be judged by its battery life and it is here that we hit a rather large snag. To help retain the X120's svelte shape and portable weight, Samsung has given it a weedy four-cell, 4,000mAh capacity battery.

We've seen netbooks return good battery life with small batteries before, but thanks to its more powerful CPUs the X120 can't repeat this feat. While three hours or so might be possible under ideal conditions, in our tests the X120 managed a below-par two and a half hours. This might be enough for a short commute, but this kind of laptop ought to be aiming for closer to four hours at the very least. Samsung will be selling a higher capacity, six-cell battery at a later date, but that's still an extra cost to factor in.

This disappointing outcome tarnishes an otherwise excellent product. If battery life is a lesser priority, or you're willing to pay extra for an extended battery, then the X120 is still a very good option. However, out of the box, it doesn't deliver the goods.


Samsung's first CULV laptop scores well in the design and performance stakes, but is let down by poor battery life for a segment that's supposed to promote it. Depending on your point of view it might not be a disaster, but it remains an opportunity spurned.

Luan Bach

November 11, 2009, 5:50 pm

Real shame about the battery life, I was hoping for around 5 hours.


November 11, 2009, 6:47 pm

Seems to be a conspiracy by each manufacturer to implement some form of achilies heel into each of their CULV products right now? Bad keyboard here, small battery there, lack of dual core processor (Toshiba CULV) etc etc etc

Andy Vandervell

November 11, 2009, 7:03 pm

bv: It's rather like netbooks in the early days. Manufacturers are still exploring what people want and how best to implement that. I've got high hopes for the X420, though. It has a better battery on it and comes with an external optical drive as well.


November 11, 2009, 7:39 pm

Andy, any idea when you'll be able to review the X series Vaio? Battery life on my X is excellent although I haven't done any sort of tests...


November 11, 2009, 8:24 pm

If you can get used to the keyboard of the acer timeline 1810T (which I have and I absolutely love it) then its perfect. Su4100, 3/4GB DDR3, 250/320GB HDD, 11.6'' screen (1366x768 I believe may be slightly out) 6 hours plus battery life, and looks great. Oh and it can be had for £400 if you shop around - this really should be what they should have reviewed.

If you want a touchscreen then wait for the 1820p series (as above but with tablet feature) - probably won't be more than £500. I will probably sell the 1810 and get that when it comes out.

IMO the vaio X is stupid - less power than these new CULV models and if you want more than 3.5 hours battery life you have to add the extended battery that more than doubles both the weight and thickness, and is extremely ugly - kinda defeats the purpose really. Get used to being to bend the screen significantly whenever you open it, its so thin and makes me wonder how on earth it doesn't snap when it bends so much too. The keyboard is decent but there are better (read: vaio TT) but the touch pad is like something off the eee pc 900 with half decent mouse buttons. If you just have to spend a lot of money on a ultra portable and really want an exclusive branded computer then get a vaio TT instead. So much more power and the potability isn't practically any similar. Sorry to rant but I had to get that off my chest, If it CULV with some 'portable' battery life built in, I could justify the premium (still wouldn't get it mind).

Andy Vandervell

November 11, 2009, 8:51 pm

I hope to have a 1810T in quite soon.

X-Series is a wait and see job. Sony tend to be reticent in sending them to people who might actually test them properly - at least that's my experience! ;)

Martin Daler

November 11, 2009, 10:27 pm

I would second Andrew Violet's comments about the Acer 1810TZ. I bought one to use as a student teacher, so I needed something small and light, but with enough gumption to run powerpoint, smartboard software, show video clips as well as the usual office software, maybe several apps open at a time etc. And since I didn't want to have to lug a power brick and UK monster mains plug, it had to last all day - and it does, easily. No, it's not 8 hours of intensive multimedia use, its a full day of on-off use with a fair percentage of idle time - typical usage I would guess. And I love the keyboard.


November 12, 2009, 1:04 pm

Thanks for the pointers guys - the Acer 1810TZ looks to be the benchmark CULV sub-notebook right now - early web reviews of it and the closely related 1410 appear positive. Looking forward to a TR review soon (?) to confirm.


November 13, 2009, 7:57 pm

I've been looking around for a 6 cell battery for the Samsung X120 (JA01UK) and can't find anything concrete on it or a price. Has anyone heard anything on the 6 cell battery and a price?

Martin Daler

November 14, 2009, 6:55 pm

@Andrew Clifton-Brown

Yes, the above mentioned Acer 1810 has a 6-cell battery (Or were you saying you have already bought the Samsung and need a 6-cell battery for that?)


November 15, 2009, 1:45 pm

@Martin Daler

I haven't actually brought the Samsung X120 yet, but if I can source a 6 cell battery for it I probably will. Just finding the battery is proving to be the problem at the moment.....

Andy Vandervell

November 16, 2009, 5:34 pm

FYI all, an 1810T arrived today, so expect to see a review in a week or so!


November 17, 2009, 10:42 pm

Acer nearly always manage to have what looks on paper to be the best features to price ratio. I guess they have economies of scale that allow them to undercut the competition most of the time to maintain this. However what always puts me off them are reports of poor build quality and the fact that their machines just don't last as well. I'd always rather pay another 10-20% and go with Sony, Toshiba, Asus or even Dell than go down the Acer route (which I've done once and won't be repeating until I've heard better reports of their quality).

Ben Senior

November 25, 2009, 4:56 am

The Acer 1810tz would be perfect except it has no bluetooth (?!) and i'm not mad about the keyboard. Such a shame about the battery on the x120. The only netbook i've found that seems to tick all the boxes is the Lenovo U150 but it's only out in the States from what I can see with no indication of if/when it will be released here...


December 6, 2009, 11:35 pm

OK, have mine 2 weeks lads, it is brilliant, but battery life is crap! Admittedly I have come from a FSC Lifebook P7120 which had a 2nd modular battery giving me between 6-8 hours battery. The standard 4 cell which came with my "X120-JA01, Dual Core SU4100 1.3GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium, 11.6" WXGA, GMA 4500M, 3GB (1x1GB

+ 1x2GB) RAM, 250GB

HDD, No Optical

Drive, 802.11BG WLAN,

Webcam, 4 Cell" only last about 2.5hrs at max, even with Samsung power profile enabled in W7. Very dissapointing. I am a reseller/IT installer and I will be making sure I spec a 6cell before selling this baby. Other than that it is great. Performace, great speed to come back from hiberantion too. Mad to think I now think an 11.6 screen is too big!!!! That's what coming from a 10.2" Lifebook does!!!!! Anyway, bewarned about battery life, but then get this machine with confidence. ADIOS AMIGOS!!!

James Bedford

August 11, 2010, 1:36 pm

I've had my X120 for a few months now - major gripe (like everyone), is the battery.

On the plus side - there is a 6-cell available, but it's nearly impossible to track down. Samsung's UK parts dealer ( sell it by phone / mail order (not in their web catalogue) and it's £111 + £7.50 P&P. It's part number is BA43-00235A (the standard 4-cell is BA43-00234A).


October 14, 2010, 3:49 pm

I'm not concerned about battery life so I went for this one - only to find it had another downer that, for me, is going to take a lot of getting over. I had never seen a keyboard with both the back slash and the forward slash on the right-hand side, resulting in the right-hand shift key, which is only two-thirds the size of the left-hand one (if that!), being shoved out too far to the right for the pinkie to reach it while the other fingers stay close to the "home keys". If anyone has an X120, try this - left index finger on the \f, sorry, F, and other left-hand fingers on D, S, A; right index finger on the J and other right-hand fingers on K, L, Semi-colon; now stretch each pinkie to rest on the relevant shift key. \see, oops, See the difference?

I gather that nobody at \samsung (see what I mean?) sorry, Samsung, nor any reviewer, is a touch-typist :-/ This keyboard is a no-no for a touch-typist with the average female hand size, which is why I'm taking so much trouble to explain it here.

I'd also never heard of a laptop with no sleep-charge USB sockets so it didn't occur to me to check it out.

Very depressing.


March 11, 2013, 8:00 pm

i brought this laptop 2 yrs ago and has never failed me till 3 months ago when the speekers started making funny noises to be honest i whould never get this computer again waist of money

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