Samsung is well known for its innovative and unusual designs, so it's no surprise to find one or two unique features in its X1. The most obvious one hits you as soon as you open the thing up - the optical drive is a top-loading model, meaning that the keyboard is pushed to the very front.
Unfortunately, this hasn't been executed too well. The keyboard's position means there's no room for a touchpad, so a trackball is the only onboard way of moving the cursor. IBM ThinkPad users may be accustomed to trackballs, but they're fiddly, and the one on the X1 is set too deep, making it even more difficult to use. The function buttons are all on the lefthand side of the keyboard - something else that will take some getting used to.
And the optical drive itself isn't the best. Opening it up is simple enough, but getting the disc in, and especially out, is quite a tricky procedure. Unless you have long fingernails, it's difficult to get enough purchase on the disc to get it out.
There's plenty to like about the X1, though. It's incredibly thin and very light - much lighter than you'd expect for a 14in widescreen model. And speaking of the screen, it's really good, with deep, rich colours and sharp detail.
It's not the fastest laptop we've seen, although ultraportables are rarely known for their processing power. A WorldBench 5 score of 62 isn't exactly electrifying, but for something you'll use on the move, battery life is more important. The X1 comes with two batteries - the standard one gave us 278 minutes of life and the extended one lasted 523 minutes. This is pretty exceptional stuff, and working all day long without being connected to the mains is a real possibility.
- 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M 733 processor;
- Windows XP Professional;
- 512MB DDR RAM;
- 60GB hard drive;
- 14in 1,280x768 TFT display;
- 24x/24x/16x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/2.4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW) drive;
- Norton AntiVirus;
- 1-year collect-and-return warranty;
There's very little that's mediocre about the X1; the good things are very good, and the bad things are very bad. The optical drive and trackpoint make it a pain to use, but the battery life and portability make it an ideal travelling companion. Samsung will have to face up to the fact that it has got the X1 only half right.