Samsung's laptops are generally impressive, but the X1 takes things a step further. With its ultra-thin design and fabulous wide-aspect 14-inch screen, this sub-2kg laptop is right at the cutting edge in terms of design and portability. It performs creditably and has good battery life, particularly with the optional extended battery, making it an excellent option for mobile professionals seeking a stylish travelling companion with good multimedia features for those off-duty moments.
At first glance, it's the Samsung X1's slim dimensions that capture your attention. At 1.7kg the X1 is hardly a featherweight, but considering that it measures 332mm wide by 261mm deep by 19mm high at the front, stretching to 23mm at the back, Samsung has done well to keep the system as light as it is.
The most significant features of the X1 are its screen and keyboard. The 14-inch wide-aspect screen is superb, delivering a native resolution of 1,280x768 pixels (WXGA) and a bright, pin-sharp picture. Samsung's SuperClear LCD technology makes the X1's screen more usable outdoors, but it is quite reflective, which occasionally makes it difficult to work indoors if there's a light source such as a window behind you.
The keyboard has a novel design, thanks largely to the location of the optical drive. This sits between the keyboard and the screen, on the right-hand side, and has a lid that opens vertically. The lid feels flimsy and you should take care not to push it back further than its preferred angle of repose. This top-loading optical drive design reduces the X1's desktop footprint compared to a traditional slide-out tray, but has a number of implications for the keyboard.
For a start, there isn't space for the usual row of function keys above the Qwerty and number keys. However, the screen's wide aspect means that there's room to the left and right of the Qwerty keys, so the function keys sit in two columns on the left-hand side. This arrangement feels perfectly ergonomic after half an hour or so of use.
More difficult to get used to is the fact that there's no wrist-rest area beneath the keyboard -- a pointing stick sits between the G, H and B keys, mitigating the need for a touchpad. The left and right mouse buttons sit right on the front edge of the system, and although they function well enough, we found their position awkward. We also missed the wrist-rest, particularly when working with the X1 sitting on our knees rather than on a table. The keyboard itself feels reasonable, although the keys offer a little less resistance than we generally like when touch typing.
There is a single column of keys to the right of the Qwerty area. As well as the Insert and Delete keys, there are three keys dedicated to launching the provided AVStation Now software -- one each for music, photos and movies -- plus a volume rocker.
AVStation Now can be run without booting up Windows, and Samsung provides a small PC Card-format remote control unit for directing media playback. Audio, delivered through stereo speakers at the back, is impressive in terms of quality, but short on volume.
The Samsung X1 is powered by Intel's 1.2GHz ultra low-voltage Pentium M 753 processor with 2MB of Level 2 cache. Graphics are handled by the GMA900 module within the 915GM chipset. Our review unit came with 512MB of DDR2 RAM, expandable to 2GB. Up to 128MB of this system memory can be commandeered by the integrated graphics as needed.
Wireless connectivity is present in the shape of Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG and Bluetooth modules, and of course there's wired 10/100 Ethernet too. Hard drives come in 40GB or 60GB capacities, our review unit having the latter.