The line between notebook and netbook is becoming increasingly blurred these days, as laptops like this Samsung X120 are amply demonstrating.

With its 11.6in widescreen display and sub-1.4kg weight, the Samsung X120 is certainly competing for similar bag space as a netbook. But thanks to a power efficient 1.3GHz dual-core processor from Intel, it packs much more punch than any Atom netbook.

Construction follows one of Samsung's favoured design ideas, using black plastic casework with chrome-effect plastic side trim. Perhaps some will approve of the chintz, but we still think this lowers the tone for an otherwise smart product. A nice touch is the raised lip around the top deck.

A bigger letdown was found after opening the lid though, and we don't mean the use of an eye straining glossy LCD panel either, as bright and colourful as this may be from Samsung-the-LCD-specialist. No, the company has adopted the dreaded side-mounted touchpad buttons that even HP and Acer have now abandonded.

Luckily the touchpad itself is precise and responsive to tap-to-click commands, so for those whose digital anatomy is not happy with the topology, you can just use the touchpad, for left-clicking anyway.

We can see Samsung's motive though, as the keyboard has been sited so far forward on the top deck that there's no room for click buttons in the regular position below the touchpad. But why put so much space between keyboard and screen in the first place?

Closer examination shows stereo speakers fixed below the perforated grill here, but these are no larger or better in sound than you'll find on a Samsung N110 netbook, for example.

Keyboard is also a step away from the usual Samsung style, taking flat-top keys that feel a bit cheaper than the usual silver-sanitised types with shaped tops.

But the X120 does feel a lot zippier in use than any netbook. Put through the WorldBench 6 mill of real-world app benchmarking, it scored an admirable 66 points.

Graphics of the Samsung X120 are courtesy of an integrated chipset which famously fails to impress in modern 3D games (we saw a typical 7fps in FEAR at Max quality, rising to 75fps once we'd switched off every rendering option in the Low quality settings).

Most impressive, though, was the Samsung X120's resolve in the face of high-definition video. Intel's GMA 4500MHD graphics chip may crumple under game load, but this GPU also takes over video playback duties in certain Windows programs, including Windows Media Player. Thus the CPU will read no load, even when playing 720/1080p HD video.

In MobileMark 2007 tests, we saw exactly 240 mins life with the standard 4-cell battery, mirroring exactly Samsung's listed 4-hour specification.

Storage is quite generous at 250GB, and 3GB of fast DDR3 RAM will keep the notebook from slowing down after you have several apps running.


The Samsung X120 straddles the gap between netbook and notebook in size, albeit with a price erring towards the full-size category. Fortunately its overall performance is also very much in the realm of a fully featured laptop, and should recommend itself to anyone looking for a relatively quick but thin and lightweight laptop.