Tools Of The Trade: The Samsung X1 laptop

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The Independent Online

A good business laptop has to deliver on several fronts: performance, battery life, and size and weight. At 1.7kg, the X1 is light for a fully featured portable, especially one with a 14in display. This is widescreen, an option more laptop manufacturers are moving towards and great for watching DVDs or viewing multiple documents.

The X1's Pentium M processor gives reasonable performance for business software such as word processing and spreadsheets, although the test model did seem a little pedestrian running some applications.

The basic memory specification, 256MB, is only really enough for light use with Windows XP. And the laptop's hard drive, although generous at 60GB, runs at a relatively slow 4,200 RPM. This means that the X1 might not be the ideal choice for someone who works with graphics.

On the plus side, the X1 has a reasonable battery life: the manufacturer's claim of three hours on the standard power pack appears to hold true. It also comes with a good range of connectivity options. It has a single PC Card slot and wireless networking is built in - in the form of WiFi and, on some models, Bluetooth.

The laptop also has a built-in DVD writer, so there is no need to carry an external unit. Other interesting touches include a remote control for the DVD, and an optical audio output.

It has some practical drawbacks, however. Samsung has placed the DVD drive on the X1 between the keyboard and the screen. The top-opening drive saves space, but is more vulnerable to dirt and dust.

The position of the keyboard, meanwhile, takes some getting used to. Putting it on the edge of the X1 makes it easy to hit keys by mistake, and the left and right buttons for mouse movements are small and awkward.

The X1 tested also had a software problem that stopped its Bluetooth module working. Deleting and reinstalling the driver software solved the problem, but this is not something that should happen on a production computer.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5.

PROS: light, good battery life.

CONS: average performance.

PRICE: £1,199 including VAT.