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Samsung X420 review

Tom Morgan
25 Oct 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
605
inc VAT

The excellent battery life can’t make up for a lack of performance and a relatively high price

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Specifications

14 in 1,366x768 display, 1.8kg, 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7300, 2.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Professional 32-bit

Samsung is well known for putting a lot of effort into the design of its products, and this ultra-portable is no exception. The X420 has an unusual pebble-like shape, with silver accents to highlight the soft curves.

The grey metal-effect lid has a glossy finish, but underneath the entire body is made of matte black plastic. However, the sturdy construction and smooth texture mean the X420 doesn't feel cheap. The 14in LED-backlit screen is very thin, sitting flush with the bezel to continue the crisp lines. Image quality was very good, with accurate colour reproduction and excellent brightness levels. Contrast wasn't great, though, and this made very light images appear lacking in detail. Video playback was very smooth, with few artefacts even in fast-moving scenes. Audio quality was average, with decent mid-range, but bass was lacking and treble was slightly harsh. Volume wasn't impressive, but was still reasonably loud from a metre away.

Samsung X420

The keyboard was comfortable to use, although the keys themselves felt slightly loose and made a lot of noise when typing. Nearly every key was full-size, and even the function and arrow keys have only been shrunk a small amount, so touch-typist should be able to adjust from a desktop keyboard quickly. There aren't any extra shortcut keys to break the minimalist design, so important actions are mapped to the function keys. The small touchpad was very responsive. The touchpad buttons were also small, with a small dead spot in the centre of the see-saw buttons, although we didn't find it an issue during normal use.

Samsung has opted to use an Intel Core 2 Duo processor in the X420. It's a low voltage model that runs slower than the normal mobile Core 2 Duo to extend battery life. Combined with 2GB of memory, performance wasn't overly impressive. While it can comfortably outperform a netbook, newer Core i3 processors are much faster. The benefit, though, is a very impressive battery life of almost eight hours. This is netbook territory - long enough for a whole working day away from the mains. The X420 managed to stay cool and quiet throughout our testing too, never feeling hot and only audible when running at maximum load.

As with most ultra-portables, there isn't an internal optical drive. This saves on weight and keeps the chassis thin, but can be an inconvenience for anyone that uses CDs or DVDs a great deal. However, Samsung has included an external USB-powered DVD re-writer in the box. This doesn't impact too greatly on the cost of the laptop, but for portability an inbuilt drive is much more convenient.

When compared to laptops that use Intel's newer Core processors, the X420 looks slow. Although it doesn't have fantastic performance, the beautiful design and excellent battery life elevate it above other ultra-portables. If it weren't for the high price, it would be a great alternative to a netbook for those wanting a bigger screen and more power.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo U7300
Processor clock speed1.3GHz
Memory2.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size23x338x235mm
Weight1.8kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size14 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory384MB

Storage

Total storage capacity250GB
Optical drive typeExternal USB DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11a/b/g/n
PC Card slots0
Supported memory cardsSD, SDHC, MMC
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 32-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£605
Detailswww.samsung.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk