For years, Samsung has made laptops for pretty much every laptop-consuming corner of the globe except the U.S (an arrangement that's never particularly bothered us). The Q1 Ultra UMPC is as close as Samsung has come to selling a laptop here, but in the fall of 2008, the company decided to take on the challenging American market. One standout product from the initial lineup is the X460, a slim 14-inch laptop with a unique look.
Clearly aimed at the premium buyer, the $1,699 Samsung X460 has a similarly thin profile as the MacBook Air (albeit slightly larger to accommodate the 14-inch screen), and a distinctive chassis that mixes glossy black plastic with red brushed metal. Components are decent, with discrete Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics and an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor, but it's still overpriced for what you get--about $600 more than 14-inch systems, such as the Asus X83VM-X1 (with better graphics) or the Toshiba Satellite E105 (with only integrated graphics, but a backlit keyboard) that delivery comparable performance.
If you need the thinnest 14-inch possible, or just love the look, the Samsung X460 is an impressive piece of hardware, but others will find better value elsewhere.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,699|
|Processor||2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400|
|Memory||3GB, 1066MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||256MB Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||13.3x9.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||4.2/5.0 pounds|
Less than 1 inch thick at its thinnest point, the Samsung X460 is incredibly slim, and is even lighter by a few ounces than the current 13-inch MacBook. The chassis is a mix of glossy and matte black plastic, except for the lid, two-thirds of which is covered by a panel of red-tinted brushed aluminum. It's certainly a distinctive look, but if glossy black and metallic red doesn't float your boat, there's nothing you can do about it. The X460 is a one-size-fits-all fixed configuration.
The keyboard tray has a minimalist vibe, with no media control or quick launch buttons--just a basic two-button touch pad, fingerprint reader, and power button. The keyboard has the large, flat, widely spaced keys we prefer, similar to what you'll find on Apple and Sony laptops. Our music playback experience, however, was a bust. The stereo speakers, positioned above the keyboard, seemed especially tinny, even for a laptop. Perhaps the slim design left little room for heftier drivers.
The 14.1-inch wide-screen display has a 1,280x800-pixel native resolution, which is standard for 14- and 15-inch laptops. The system's slim design and the thin bezel around the screen made the display stand out especially well, and although glossy, we weren't bothered by excessive reflections or glare.
|Samsung X460||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The lack of FireWire doesn't bother us, but you should note that in a break from recent laptop design norms, one of the USB ports and the HDMI connection are located on the rear edge of the system, which makes them a bit harder to access. Two recent Asus laptops, the X83VB-X1 and X83VM-X1, feature a similar design. We always like seeing an ExpressCard slot, but a mainstream laptop such as this should have a full-size ExpressCard/54 slot, not the smaller (and less useful) ExpressCard/34.
The 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU is what we'd expect to see in a mid-to-high-end mainstream laptop, but the similarly configured Asus X83VM-X1 was both slightly faster and significantly cheaper. HP's 14-inch Pavilion dv4-1125nr has a slower 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 CPU, but you'd be unlikely to notice the difference in real-word use, and it's also about $600 less.
We do, however, appreciate the discrete Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics (the Asus X83VM has a GeForce 9600M), which is useful for graphics-heavy applications and even some light gaming. We got about 20 frames per second in Unreal Tournament III at a 1,280x800-pixel resolution, so dialing the detail settings down should produce playable, if not impressive, frame rates.
The Samsung X460 impressed us with its battery life, running for 3 hours and 31 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. Both the Asus and HP 14-inch systems ran for a little more than 2 hours. Note that our battery drain test is tough on systems, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.
Samsung includes a one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system, although for a premium-priced product, we would have liked to see two or three years of coverage included as standard. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line. Also, Samsung's Web site has an online knowledge base and driver downloads. One nice surprise--perhaps because Samsung's U.S. offerings are new, the support Web site is similarly fresh, with sections logically laid out and easy to navigate.
Find out more about how we test laptops.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400; 3,072MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS; 320GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm.
Apple MacBook Core 2 Duo - 2.4GHz / 13.3-inch OS X 10.5.5 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm.
Lenovo Thinkpad X301
Windows Vista Business Edition SP1; 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400; 2,048MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Mobile Intel 4500MHD; 64GB Samsung solid-state drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GS; 320GB Seagate 5,400rpm.
HP Pavilion dv4-1125nr
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.