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Samsung X360 13.3in Notebook - World Exclusive review

Andy Vandervell

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Apple's MacBook Air isn't a popular thing around the office. Just the mention of its name sends Riyad into apoplectic rage, so much so that when our Apple-loving web developer suggested he might buy one, we had to bribe the local police with free tech support to make the charges go away. There's no denying its aesthetic beauty and lord knows we appreciate that in our technology, but its flagrant and deliberate lack of practicality is the epitome of Apple's excesses. There's only so much style over substance one can take before the logical part of your brain kicks back.

Thus when Samsung, a company that knows a thing or two about beauty and practicality, decided to wade in with an ultra-thin, ultra-light, ultra-portable notebook of its own it piqued ours and plenty others' interest. Our optimism was continued when a pre-production unit arrived in the office and now we have the retail sample, we're ready to decide whether it's the MacBook Air beater it proposes to be or something a little bit different.

From the word go the X360 shows it's nothing like its games console namesake. That much should be obvious; it isn't a games console after all, but the Samsung is a world apart from the unimaginative grey box styling of Microsoft's otherwise excellent console. We've got the solid state drive version here and on the lid it features a sumptuous two-tone red brushed metal and glossy black finish.

As eye-catching features go it's pretty spectacular. In fact, we infinitely prefer the bold red finish to the regular hard drive version whose brushed metal section is black. It's not even that much more expensive, either; the 120GB HDD version retails for around £140 less and that's with 1GB less RAM as well. Still, if an extra £140 to go SSD breaks the budget, the hard drive version is still a very good value alternative.

Inside, Samsung continues its penchant for glossy black and if you look very closely there are little flecks that, when viewed in the right light, shine red. This is kind of nice but given you have to look very closely to see the effect, it doesn't really add anything. More pressing is the resulting fingerprints and greasiness picked up by a glossy surface you constantly touch. We've almost grown used to such things, but it's a trend we don't approve of and plenty of people feel more strongly than us about it.

Nonetheless, the X360 is still a very good looking piece of kit and though it's not as thin as a MacBook Air, it still manages to be impressively svelte. At the front it reduces all the way down to 16.7mm thick and its thickest point of 30.9mm is largely due to the removable six-cell battery at the back that protrudes downwards slightly. And if it isn't thinner it is, as advertised, lighter than the MacBook Air. Or, at least, for the most part it is. At 1.34kg, as measured by our scales, it is lighter than the 1.36kg MacBook Air, but it isn't the 1.29kg (with six-cell battery and SSD) quoted in Samsung's literature. It's not a big deal, but a point still worth remembering.

MarioM

November 28, 2008, 8:16 pm

Alas, Samsung seem to be shooting for the corporate/education sub-� market - in my experience that limit is common.

Singulariter

November 29, 2008, 12:19 am

Gloss = Loss

smc8788

November 29, 2008, 6:10 am

If Samsung were aiming for the budget concious, what was the point of putting DDR3 RAM in there, when it is so much more expensive than DDR2 and the very small performance increases don't really warrant it (particularly with that processor), especially for this market. They would have been better off just sticking in 3 or even 2GB of DDR2 which would have been fine for a system of this spec. They could then use those savings to upgrade that weak processor to the slightly better ULV SU9400 (1.4GHz), which would only be about another 㿀-㿊 more.

Steve

December 1, 2008, 3:59 pm

After reading the preview on TR a few months ago, I was seriously considering this notebook. After reading a few reviews, I'm glad I opted for the Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B. The screen, colour of the lid, glossy finish & lack of a built-in optical drive are enough to put me off the Samsung. Might sound trivial, but when you chuck around ٟ.5k at a notebook, you want all your requirements on board!

Davidx360

December 2, 2008, 5:20 pm

Hi there,





I've had an X360 for the past couple of weeks and I am delighted with it. Whilst not a perfect product, for me it represents an excellent balance of features, performance and value. This laptop was bought to replace a Sony G series 12inch ultra-portable.





The good aspects of this laptop includes: battery life (full charge gives me five hours word processing plus three hours web browsing with two hours indicated remaining - wireless on at all times), display very sharp (from the box it did look a bit washed out but reducing the extreme factory contrast setting helped alot with this), boot time (can't tell you how annoying Vista boot times were on my previous laptop...this thing is so fast that I sometimes reboot just to see again how quick it is!), cool and really quiet operation, & finally really solid construction both keyboard (which is great) and overall.





The bad: the displays rather limited viewing angle.





The Ugly: Yep...that glossy finish is a pain.





Whilst it will always be horses for courses; for me (and after playing with the Sony TT as my other option) the X360 represented the best balance delivered at a very good price. Don't discount the X360 until you've tried it and the alternatives.





David

Davidx360

December 3, 2008, 4:47 pm

PS: On my scales the X360 is 1.31Kg - still not the quoted 1.29 :o)





David

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