After last week’s Asus UL50Vg, there’s now another option if you're after a relatively thin and light laptop with a large screen and, potentially, excellent battery life. Indeed, Samsung’s 15.6in X520 has more or less the same specifications as the Asus, including Intel's Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) processor. The main differences are that it doesn’t sport hybrid graphics or an overclocked CPU, and comes with Windows 7 Home Premium instead of Professional. Since it has a similar price point of around £600 and is also up against the Acer Aspire Timeline 5810T, now available for under £500, let’s see how it compares.
As the X520 is essentially a larger sibling of the Samsung X120, in terms of looks it’s an attractive machine. Unfortunately, the lid is as glossy as ever but its pearlescent silver sheen makes a nice change from the usual variations on piano black and doesn’t show off fingerprints to the same extent.
Lifting up X520's display reveals a matt black interior – bravo Samsung as we're not fans of glossy ones! The screen’s surround is slightly convex, fitting snugly into the partially concave base, the sides of which are accented by a faux-chrome strip. Build quality is generally good though the chassis does suffer from flex here and there.
Samsung’s latest presents an extremely simple and minimal design overall, with a power button sporting a tiny blue LED - the only control aside from the keyboard and touchpad. All the other shortcuts and controls usually found on a separate strip are incorporated into the keyboard as secondary functions and are clearly laid out. We also appreciate the dual Fn keys, one of which handily resides just above the cursor keys that host brightness and volume controls.
Unfortunately, the tile-style keyboard, which includes a full number pad, leaves us with mixed feelings. Layout is faultless, and the keys’ broad, smooth surface is pleasant to touch. However, while travel is good and keys give off an audible click when pressed, they also feel a tad loose. Combined with some flex and a noticeable rattle towards the keyboard’s edges, we’ve definitely come across better efforts.
Thankfully, the touchpad is just right. It's set into the chassis so its edges are tangibly delineated, it's sensitive, neither too small nor too large and offers the same smooth surface as its surroundings. As with most laptops that come with Windows 7 it offers multi-touch and it works flawlessly (unlike some).
Despite displaying the usual fondness for fingerprints, the touchpad buttons (integrated into a single chromed rocker switch) do give excellent feedback. Below these are the laptop's status indicators, which are backlit in blue or green. These will of course be hidden when the laptop is closed, so there'll be no visual cues to remind that it's still switched on as you pack it into your bag.