The Samsung X360 is an interesting and good-looking ultraportable laptop. Although its sex appeal can't match that of the Apple MacBook Air, this slim little machine may have enough positives to win your custom - if you have a spare £1,500 or so.

That money buys you an ultraportable equipped with a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400 CPU and 3GB of RAM. Despite its lukewarm configuration, the Samsung X360 still managed to eke out an average score of 73 on our WorldBench 6 test suite.

But don't buy the Samsung X360 if your intent on playing graphics-intensive games. Intel's integrated graphics system limps along in Doom 3 at a lousy 8 frames per second (at 1024 by 786 resolution). Hamsters on treadmills move faster.

On the other hand, the Samsung X360's 128GB solid-state drive is fairly speedy; it is also largely responsible for the laptop's high price and low weight (only 1.7kg, counting the AC adaptor - it's 1.3kg without).

The battery life of the Samsung X360 was most impressive, lasting a whopping 7 hours, 36 minutes in our stress tests.

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The Samsung X360 measures 228x311x30.9mm, so a lot gets crammed into a fairly tight space. In fact it shares a lot in common with its big brother, the Samsung X460, despite having a smaller screen and lacking an optical drive.

The 13.3in backlit LED on the Samsung X360 is amazingly bright. Good and colourful, without oversaturation, Samsung's new notebook is easy on the eyes. In fact, the screen makes for easy viewing under just about any lighting conditions, including direct sunlight. And the 1280-by-800-pixel resolution is perfectly reasonable for an ultraportable notebook.

Like Apple and Sony, Samsung opts for a cut out keyboard, on which the keys pop out through holes in the case. This arrangement gives the keys a more solid feel and creates good spacing between them. The result is comfortable, solid tactile feedback on every key press. Although the Samsung X360's keys aren't especially textured, they don't feel flimsy.

You won't find superfluous multimedia shortcut keys on the Samsung X360. Instead, the laptop handles each special task through a combination of the 'Function' button and one of the F keys. (That's the only way to toggle the number lock and caps lock.) The only dedicated buttons are a shortcut to the Samsung MagicDoctor (a quick-fix finder for PC problems) and a speed-boost shortcut key (a toggle between basic power-saving settings and full speed). The mousepad is pleasantly sensitive, and the two buttons are well-spaced and solid to the touch.

The Samsung X360's case is expertly built and ready for travel. Like the screen on its inner surface, the two-toned metallic lid stands out.

The Samsung X360 squeezes a lot of ports into the case as well: VGA and HDMI for video, an ethernet jack, a modem, 802.11n Wi-Fi , Bluetooth., three USB ports around the sides, a five-in-one flash card reader, a PC Express card slot, and headphone and mic jacks. Throw in the 1.3-megapixel webcam and the fingerprint reader, and you have a fairly robust package.

The sound is surprisingly big - strong enough to fill a small room and annoy colleagues. There's no proper subwoofer, but the mids and highs work well, and the Samsung X360's volume reaches a high enough level that headphones aren't your only listening option.

People who loathe bloatware will appreciate that the Samsung X360 comes without much preinstalled software. It's not completely barren, however. Our test unit came with Samsung's one-step diagnostic and system recovery software, a quick troubleshooter for analysing installation problems and getting you back to a factory-fresh state. You can also quickly reinstall important Windows files while keeping your data intact.

The other programs on board consist of a speed-stepping shortcut that lets you quickly toggle between battery-saving and power modes, as well as the OmniPass security software, made to work in tandem with the built-in biometrics.

Samsung X360: Specs

  • 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, Microsoft Windows XP Pro
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 13.3in, 1280 x 800, LCD Display w/ Glossy Screen & LED Backlight, 16:9
  • SATA, Intel GS45 Express
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • DVD+-RW DL
  • Audio In/Out (1/8in Mini), Bluetooth, Ethernet - RJ45 Twisted-Pair (XBaseT), HDMI, Port Replicator/Docking Station, USB 2.0, Video - 15 pin High-Density D-shell (VGA)
  • Express Card 34, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMedia Card (MMC), SD Card, SDHC Card, Sony Memory Stick, xD-Picture Card
  • Built-In Microphone, Built-In Webcam, Fingerprint Reader
  • 228x311x30.9mm
  • 1.3kg (1.7kg with power adaptor)
  • 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, Microsoft Windows XP Pro
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 13.3in, 1280 x 800, LCD Display w/ Glossy Screen & LED Backlight, 16:9
  • SATA, Intel GS45 Express
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • DVD+-RW DL
  • Audio In/Out (1/8in Mini), Bluetooth, Ethernet - RJ45 Twisted-Pair (XBaseT), HDMI, Port Replicator/Docking Station, USB 2.0, Video - 15 pin High-Density D-shell (VGA)
  • Express Card 34, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMedia Card (MMC), SD Card, SDHC Card, Sony Memory Stick, xD-Picture Card
  • Built-In Microphone, Built-In Webcam, Fingerprint Reader
  • 228x311x30.9mm
  • 1.3kg (1.7kg with power adaptor)

OUR VERDICT

Samsung's X360 certainly doesn't come cheap. But with the 128GB SSD drive on board, you wouldn't expect it to be a huge bargain. Overall it's a solid machine for indoor and outdoor use.

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