embedded metallic particles in the paint, give it a modern and high-quality look
There’s a lot to like about netbooks, but you have to worry about their small screens. We check out Samsung’s new x420 which is an excellent - and almost as portable – alternative notebook.
At 1.8kg, the x420 is pretty light and nicely sized for placing on the knees, though you'll be hard pressed to use it on a train with a neighbour. The design is slim and sleek with solid specs - our top of the range Andro model not only sports a dual core 1.3 GHz processor but also a massive 3 gigs of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive. The laptop's design is very appealing, with chrome-style edging, high-gloss lid and matt surfaces inside, along with the embedded metallic particles in the paint, give it a modern and high-quality look.
On connectivity options, Samsung has left the front and back edges free of any ports, instead they have opted to place all ports along the sides. These include an SD card slot, three USB 2.0 ports (one slightly apart from the others so that broader memory sticks can be plugged in), audio ports, and a wired network port. The 14 inch LED backlit screen is great for watching videos and doesn’t have the letterbox effect of smaller displays. At resolution of 1366x768 pixels, the screen is in 16:9 format; meaning that it is wider and squatter than the 4:3 or 16:10 screens used as standard. If you fancy a bigger image, there’s an inbuilt HDMI mini port and VGA out.
The keyboard feels exceptionally roomy if you're used to the contortionist delights of a netbook and Samsung continue to refine their gesture-ready trackpads. Best of all, moderate internet usage, music playing and word processing will easily see you get 6 hours of use.
We would have liked an inbuilt optical drive to complement the large screen and video capabilities (though Samsung did include an external drive in our test unit’s box, which is an optional €219 extra) but it's a minor issue. More problematic is some sluggish performance, not helped by our test model coming with Vista as standard – Samsung do now offer Windows 7 as the default but we can only assume that it has improved the performance somewhat. We noticed HD videos are playable but you better not try to multitask with one open.
There’s a lot to like in Samsung’s mid-sized x420 – it’s light and well-designed, with a great screen, keyboard and impressive battery life. The performance boost from your standard netbook isn’t huge but with a dropping price point from €500, it will be a very affordable alternative for those who need access to a computer on the move.