Samsung X11 review
A notebook that's good looking, quick and enjoyable to use, But consider buying the long-life battery
Samsung's reputation for well-built, attractive laptops precedes it, and an appreciative line of onlookers formed as soon as we had the X11 out of its box. It's available with a range of processor options ranging from the Core Solo T1300 to Intel's top-of-the-range Core Duo CPU, the T2600. Ours came with a Duo T2300, running with a core clock speed of 1.66GHz, and 1GB of PC2-4300 RAM. This is a more than respectable base specification, and the X11 ran to a final result of 0.95 in our benchmarks, making it perfect for virtually all users.
The screen, as with many of the notebooks we've reviewed recently, is a 16:9 wide-aspect model. The native resolution of 1,280 x 800 is relatively low, but it ensures everything on the 14.1in screen is easily readable without sacrificing the ability to keep two pages open side-by-side in Word. The panel itself is glossy, which isn't ideal for business users - we used it at length in an office with fluorescent lighting and can testify that the reflections on the screen were always noticeable and sometimes highly distracting. Viewing angles were just slightly less than optimum - good enough for a pair of users as opposed to a roomful of people.
It's possible to buy the X11 with either Intel's GMA 950 integrated graphics or Nvidia's 7400 mobile GPU. Our game benchmarks ran well on our unit's 7400, but not well enough to convince us that hard-core gamers should consider even this version of the X11. Nevertheless, scores of 17fps in Far Cry and 17fps in Call of Duty 2 (both at 1,024 x 768 with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering) indicates it will be a perfectly good choice for those who like older games.
The X11 is targeted squarely at users who want to be entertained, and to that end Samsung includes its AVStation Pro software. Import your video, audio and image files using the Windows front end, and you can boot straight into the 10ft interface using the dedicated AVS Now button. In use, it isn't quite as intuitive or smooth as Windows Media Player, but it's useful for those who want quick access to their media. The speakers are notably superior to the standard issue with notebooks, and we appreciate the SRS WOW XT and TruSurround software features, but these are still best complemented by external speakers or a decent pair of headphones.
The media card reader on the front of the laptop is labelled as a Memory Stick reader, but it will in fact read Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD, MMC and xD cards. You'll be able to store plenty of data on the 100GB Samsung SpinPoint hard disk, while the dual-layer DVD writer on the right-hand side of the unit offers another removable storage option.
We were pleased to note that as well as the obvious efforts to make the X11 a good-looking machine, Samsung has put plenty of thought into making it comfortable to use. The keyboard is particularly deserving of praise. The base is rock solid and the keys offer a near-perfect amount of feedback.
We're used to describing well-featured laptops and then attaching the caveat that taking them anywhere will take a strong pair of arms. So it's pleasing that the X11 is small enough to tuck into a bag and, at 2.18kg, almost light enough not to notice. The battery has a row of LEDs on it so you can quickly gauge how much life is remaining without booting up the system. Unfortunately, though, it only lasted 2hrs 22mins under light use. This dropped to 1hr 18mins under intensive use - sufficient for people who might very occasionally want to use their laptop on the move, but not for a mobile worker. A long-life battery with eight cells (as opposed to the four cells inside the standard battery) is available, though, and we recommend considering it.