Samsung X05 XTC 1500

Summary: This is an excellent notebook. If anything, the cheaper XTC 1400 model offers even better value, but in either case you get plenty for your money.

  • Editors' rating:
    7.7
  • User rating:
    0.0
  • RRP:
    GBP £1,399.00

Pros

  • Slim and lightweight
  • good battery life
  • usable keyboard
  • good specification
  • good price.

Cons

  • Screen illumination is a bit dim
  • poor 3D graphics performance
  • no floppy drive included.

These days Samsung has enough notebooks in its range for things to get confusing, but if you think of the X05 series as being the slightly more affordable alternative to the full-spec X10 systems, you won’t be far off the mark. This isn’t to say that the X05 has been cut down mercilessly to fit a budget. Our review sample came with a 1.5GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB of PC2100 DDR memory, a 40GB hard disk, a DVD/CD-RW combo drive and a Centrino motherboard with built-in 802.11b wireless networking, which covers most of the bases.

In fact you don’t even have to settle for that if you don’t really want to: the XTC 1400 model has a 1.4GHz processor, 256MB of DDR SDRAM and a 30GB hard disk, and comes in at £1,099 rather than £1,399 (ex. VAT). Either way, Samsung is clearly after the middle market here -- meaning anyone with an ordinary range of requirements (Word, Excel, IE and their brethren), and a realistic amount of money to spend.

Design & features
It’s obvious from the outset that this is a Centrino notebook. The case is very slim and light, since the cool-running Pentium-M doesn’t need as much in the way of fans and heat-sinks as previous notebook CPUs. It’s also less power hungry, which seems to have prompted Samsung to offer two battery options with the X05. Ours came with the larger 6-cell, 4,400mAh Li-ion battery, but you can have a lighter and smaller 3-cell pack if you prefer. The bigger battery should deliver about 3.5 hours of continuous light use, so we’d expect something like 2 hours or a little under from the smaller battery. The 6-cell pack projects about 2cm from the back of the unit, and although it’s fairly firmly mounted in the case there’s no getting around the fact that anything that sticks out is a knock magnet and a potential weak spot, especially if the machine is ever dropped. The lid, we were pleased to see, is made of alloy, although the rest of the case is plastic. It’s so slim -- 2.7cm closed -- and lightweight that a certain insubstantiality is inevitable, but this is probably a price worth paying for the pleasantly portable 2kg carrying weight. You don’t get a notebook’s size and weight down this low without the odd sacrifice, and as usual, the floppy drive got the elbow. You don’t get one in the basic package, but Samsung sells an external USB unit for a modest enough £32 extra. Most of the standard array of ports has gone by the board too, leaving only two USB connectors, a VGA port, an S-video TV output and a FireWire port. You also get a Type II PC Card slot and an almost invisible 3-in-1 slot that can take Memory Stick, MMC and SD cards. Sensibly, Samsung makes a USB port replicator for the X05, which adds all the conventional ports to your repertoire, and which will set you back a further £89. As the X05 is a Centrino system, the internal 56Kbps modem and 10/100 Ethernet adapter are augmented by 802.11b wireless networking on a Mini-PCI card. This is an important part of the Centrino design, as it allows you to upgrade relatively painlessly to faster standards as they emerge. We got on reasonably well with the keyboard, which retains much of the key sizing conventions you’d find on a standard PC keyboard. The general layout is logical, and although the keypad is compact, it isn’t crowded, so typing speed does not suffer. The touchpad worked properly, and some thoughtful soul has seen fit to add a vertical scroll wheel which is always a welcome feature. The screen serves up a standard 1,024 by 768 resolution on a 14.1in. diagonal, and we certainly had no complaints about that. The image was a little on the dull side though, even with the brightness cranked right up, and if you are in a sunny corner, you may find the screen becomes difficult to read.

Performance & battery life
Unlike the more expensive X10 series, the X05 relies on Intel’s Extreme Graphics 2 accelerator, which forms a part of the 855GM chipset. EG2 uses a shared memory architecture, which helps keep the price down, but it isn’t in the same league performance-wise as the Nvidia GeForce 440 Go that you get in the X10. That said, it coped fine in 2D and it at least does 3D -- although judging from its 3DMark 2001 score of 1,858, the X05 is best considered a mainly 2D business platform. Centrino notebooks can be very fast, as the Pentium M with its 1MB of on-die cache is no slouch, and the X05 has 512MB of DDR memory and a reasonably fast hard disk into the bargain. The result was a commendable overall Business Winstone 2001 score of 55.2 and an equally impressive 36 in the Content Creation 2002 benchmark. As far as Windows and business applications are concerned, the X05 most definitely cuts the mustard. With the exception of Norton AntiVirus and a few utilities (including Nero Burning ROM 5.5, which is worth having despite the daft name), you have to buy your own software. Although a copy of Office XP would have been nice, we were still happy enough with the 1 year European-wide warranty (major cities, 72-hour turnaround target). In fact, we were happy with the whole X05 package: with a bit of help from Intel and Centrino, Samsung has come up with a very nice, well designed and fast business notebook that ought to fly off the shelves.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
System Type Notebook
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium M 1.5 GHz
Cache L2 - 1 MB
Chipset Intel 855GM
Platform Technology Intel Centrino
Memory
Technology DDR SDRAM
Speed 266 MHz / PC2100
Slots Qty 2
Storage
Optical Drive CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo
Read Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed 8x
Rewrite Speed 8x
Optical Drive (2nd) none
Type portable
Display
Widescreen No
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel Extreme Graphics 2
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Sound Stereo speakers
Compliant Standards AC '97
Input
Type keyboard
Communications
Wireless 802.11b
Network Interface 10/100 Ethernet
Modem
Protocols & Specifications ITU V.90
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Output 60 Watt
Connections & Expansion
Slots 1 x CardBus ( 1 free )
2 x memory
Interfaces 2 x USB 2.0 - 4 PIN USB Type A
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x display / video - S-video output
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5mm
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
1 x audio - SPDIF output
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX - RJ-45
Memory Card Reader Yes ( Memory Stick )
Software
Software Included MGI VideoWave 4 SE
Miscellaneous
Compliant Standards ACPI 1.0b

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

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