Samsung X420 review

4 Jan 2010

Samsung's X420 is slim, light and relatively inexpensive, but it's far from perfect.

Price when reviewed: 
592£592 inc VAT
3

Going by the number of slimline ultraportables around at the moment, Intel has really been pushing its Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage platform. That's no bad thing, since it allows the likes of Samsung's X420 to bridge the gap between the upper echelons of netbook society and expensive ultraportables.

Compared to many £500 laptops Samsung's X420 is a seriously portable proposition at just 1.77kg, and its slim figure is alluring too. The silver lid sparkles attractively and contrasts well with the stylish matte-black interior and chrome-effect frame. The overall effect is sharp and stylish.

Build quality, however, is uninspiring. Both the chassis and lid are flexible, and the chassis feels insubstantial. This is disappointing for a laptop designed to spend much of its life on the road, particularly given its ability to manage 7hrs 24mins of light usage.

The somewhat creaky build is doubly disappointing as, even with the display cranked up to its brightest setting and the processor running flat out, the Samsung still managed an impressive 3hrs 24mins.

On a positive note, the 14in screen is bright and clear, and the keyboard not bad, either. The keys have a light action, there's plenty of travel and the layout is sensible.

Samsung X420

Again, though, scratch the surface and things aren't quite so rosy. Image quality, for example, looks fine in isolation, but we started to have our doubts when we viewed our array of test photos and videos. Colours err on the side of coldness; a trait that robs images of their vibrancy and leaves skintones looking excessively pale and blue.

Performance, too, is as underwhelming as you'd expect from a low-voltage processor. It's quick enough for the everyday tasks required of it, as a result of 0.71 in our benchmarks suggests, but it's no speed demon. Gaming is almost completely out of the question due to the modest Intel graphics.

Go back a few years, and finding an ultraportable for £496 exc VAT would have caused a stampede. Now, however, with CULV-equipped laptops popping up all over the place, there's a huge amount of competition, and Samsung's X420 just isn't worthy of your hard-earned cash.

Details

Price ex VAT £504
Price inc VAT £592
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 343 x 235 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight 1.770kg
Travelling weight 2.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
Motherboard chipset Intel GS45
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA4500M
Graphics card RAM 32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Samsung HM320IJ
Optical disc technology External DVD writer
Optical drive Samsung SE-S048C
Battery capacity 5,900mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 24min
Battery life, heavy use 3hr 24min
Overall application benchmark score 0.71
3D performance (crysis) low settings 8fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied N/A