Samsung X11 review

Price when reviewed

Samsung’s 2.2kg X11 is the second-lightest notebook here, which is surprising considering the 14.1in screen. In fact, although it’s 14mm wider, 32mm deeper and 9mm thicker than the Apple MacBook, it’s actually 200g lighter. While extra bulk might necessitate a slightly larger bag, it’s still very portable.

Since the glossy screen has a 1,280 x 800 resolution, it only has a size advantage over the 13.3in Apple and Sony. It isn’t quite as bright, but it’s still one of the nicer displays in this group. Importantly, it’s well protected by the lid in spite of its thinness.

Only battery life prevents it being a better travelling companion; 3hrs 18mins under light use is merely average here. The low-capacity 2,600mAh four-cell battery ran out in under an hour when the system was pushed hard. An optional eight-cell battery costs £119.

Average isn’t a word we’d use to describe the Samsung’s performance. The 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 supplies more than enough power for a demanding user, and was beaten only by the Dell D620’s T7200.

But the X11’s real strength is ergonomics: it’s a real pleasure to use. Apart from the decent TFT, the firm keyboard is very comfortable. A bevelled edge in front of the touchpad buttons makes them easy to click. Build quality is solid throughout and the speakers are much better than the usual tinny effort of most notebooks. Finally, it’s stylish when others like the PC Nextday are unspectacular.

Primary components keep pace with the competition: although 80GB of storage is average in the group, 1GB of RAM, 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth is everything you’d expect. The DVD drive copes with DVD-RAM and dual-layer discs, and there’s a card reader. It’s a shame there’s only a one-year warranty, but at least it’s collect and return.

At £706, the X11 is affordable and a joy to use every day. It’s a little less portable than the MacBook because of the extra bulk – closer to the HP and Dell in size – but, if your budget is limited, it makes a fine alternative to all three.

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