Samsung's X-series stakes out the ultraportable end of the company's extensive range of laptops. The X360, for example, was Samsung's indiscreet competitor to the Apple MacBook Air, with its 13in screen and an all-up weight a few grams down from Apple's ultraportable - allowing Samsung to cheekily market its contender as 'lighter than Air'.

There are three new models in this season's X-series, with the Samsung X520 standing out due to its oversizing. We don't believe we've heard a 15in laptop described as 'ultraportable' before.

In fact, with its new-style 16:9 widescreen display, the Samsung X520 sports a glossy panel that's 15.6in corner to corner. With the lid open you'll find Samsung has even squeezed a number keypad to the right of the full-size Qwerty. The key themselves are smooth plastic and flat-topped.

Yet we can't help but notice the minimal weight of the Samsung X520. At just 2.09kg, it just falls outside our nominal 2kg limit for the category; but most 15in machines have the scales trembling at closer to 3kg. So how did Samsung manage to squeeze so much laptop into such a lightweight package?

It wasn't by scrimping on batteries. Where some manufacturers downsize capacity in a bid to shed weight, our Samsung X520 arrived with a juicy 66Wh pack. Testing with MobileMark 2007 Productivity, that was good enough for 7.5 hours life - not quite the Paris to Barcelona nine-hour road trip promised by Samsung, but still very impressive for a lightweight 15-incher.

Ports line-up is healthy too, with three USB 2.0, HDMI and VGA video, SD card reader and built-in ethernet. More surprising than all that, there's even space in the Samsung X520 for an integral dual-layer DVD re-writer. Wire-free connectivity is well covered by Bluetooth 2.1 and 11n wireless.

And good system efficiency is aided by the low-power processor. Not as miserly as an Atom, the Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 is nonetheless a capable low-voltage chip, helping the Samsung X520 along to a WorldBench result of 67 points. But while that result suggests you can do more than surf and check mail, the low power Intel graphics means that smooth gaming isn't an option.

Gaming aside, this lightweight package is not entirely without downsides. We were underwhelmed by the build quality, which feels thoroughly plasticky all round. There's a little creaking and flex as you handle the Samsung X520 and styling touches like the pretend-chrome plastic trim do nothing to lift perceived quality.


The Samsung X520 is undeniably a light 15in laptop with usefully long battery life and enough to firepower to keep most users satisfied. But we weren't enamoured by the build and 'feel', which we hazard will not become a true classic in the line-up of Samsung's normally solid-feeling notebooks.