Samsung – GT8650XT review

a modular, upgradeable business notebook
Photo of Samsung – GT8650XT
£2,099 + VAT

The GT8650XT from Samsung has a functional and contemporary design. Suitable for both corporate and personal business users, it comes with a 14.1-inch XGA colour TFT screen, which is protected by a robust magnesium alloy case. It could be argued that the model is trying to be too stylish, with a badge on the back of the lid that illuminates when the backlight is on, but this doesn’t detract from the whole package, which is pretty compact; a 3.1kg combined weight (including battery) and 31.6 x 26 x 3.8cm dimensions.

Despite its relatively modest size, this notebook manages to pack in a fair number of features, including an 8-speed removable DVD-ROM drive in the option bay. It also contains a 12GB removable hard drive, which can be upgraded to 20GB. The beauty of a removable drive such as this is that it makes replacement very easy. The notebook also offers optional support for an LS-120 drive for backup, via the option bay.

The GT8650XT comes with a mobile Pentium III processor incorporating SpeedStep technology and a 650MHz clock speed. The processor can be installed or removed by lifting the keyboard, which can prove awkward, but then it’s not something that the end user should really be doing – we were just curious… The notebook comes with 128MB of RAM, an integrated 56Kbps internal modem and combined 10/100 Ethernet card, which is convenient for corporate networking.

Samsung has clearly thought about the servicing and upgrading of this notebook. The mini-PCI slot, along with the additional SODIMM socket, can be accessed via a plate in the notebook’s base. This foresight applies to the whole of the model, with user-friendly PC Card eject buttons and two keys situated above the keyboard for Internet access.

The graphics are of a respectable quality, with the help of an 8MB S3 Savage IX 64-bit AGP chip supporting a resolution of 1024 x 768 in 32-bit colour, along with motion compensation for DVD playback. Sound is supported by a 16-bit SoundBlaster adapter via the integrated ESS 1980 PCI chipset.

The I/O options include a 4Mbps infra-red port, composite video connector and interfaces for an external mouse. The unit also comes with a 160-pin docking station connector and a VGA monitor port for connecting the laptop to an external monitor. The built in scroll mouse buttons and ergonomic rubber palm-rests are a nice touch, and mean that the notebook can be used comfortably for long periods of time.

Samsung claims to be the largest TFT panel manufacturer in the world, so it is not surprising to find that the GT8650XT contains one of the company’s own XGA colour TFT screens. The screen has excellent brightness, control and contrast and is a fair size for working on text or graphics or for viewing films.

Overall performance was good for a 650MHz Pentium III, and battery life was also respectable, expiring around the three and a half hours mark. The unit is backed by a one-year FastGuard warranty.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 020 8391 0168

The GT8650XT is an ergonomic, respectably powerful notebook with a quality TFT screen. It's good to see that Samsung has made it easy to upgrade virtually any of the unit's component, helping to stave off the inevitable day of obsolescence.