Yet, despite its undoubted excellent performance, we’ve agonised over our conclusions for the X360 more than most notebooks. This is because it treads an awkwardly fine middle ground in the ultra-portable market. Despite the ‘lighter than air’ taglines, the X360 isn’t really a strict competitor to the MacBook Air. It just doesn’t fit. Fine, it’s 13 inches, it’s slim and its light, but its good looks aren’t the fashion statement that the MacBook Air’s are and as such those wanting the latter probably won’t look twice at the X360.
On the flip side, though it courts the executive market with features like a Trusted Platform module, docking port and fingerprint reader, the presence of a glossy screen and glossy plastic innards are things that won’t endear the X360 to that more demanding market.
Instead, what Samsung seems to have produced is a sort of ‘entry-level’ ultra-portable – if such a concept doesn’t sound too absurd. It has most of the ingredients of the more expensive efforts, but while the X360 costs less than £1,400 with a 128GB SSD, it’s nigh-on impossible to find the ThinkPad X301 (the updated X300 with 128GB SSD), the MacBook Air, Toshiba’s incoming Protégé R600 or the Sony VAIO TT for much less than £1,800 with the same storage option.
Whatever your stance, a £400 difference is pretty huge even if you factor in £100 or so for the lack of integrated HSDPA – something some of the above do feature at the same time. But is it enough to secure our unreserved recommendation? To our minds: no. Not quite. This doesn’t stop the X360 from being a very good laptop with lots of good elements, including excellent overall performance and a truly superb keyboard, but a few too many niggles and a slight lack of focus ultimately let it down.
As a re-entry into the premium ultra-portable market the Samsung X360 has many admirable qualities; its great value price versus performance being primary among them. This makes it ideal for those who want a powerful ultra-portable but can’t afford the alternatives, but there are one or two things Samsung needs to work on before it can compete with the heavyweights.