Samsung – X05 XTC 1500 review

slim, well designed Centrino laptop
Photo of Samsung – X05 XTC 1500
£1,399 + VAT

Would it be giving too much away at the outset to say that the only thing we really didn’t like about the Samsung X05 XTC 1500 was the nonsense printed all over it? All this guff about ‘Samsung DigitALL, everyone’s invited’. Get it? Ugh. Anyway, you’re not invited to the X05 XTC 1500 party unless you’ve got either £1,099 or £1,399 plus a little extra for the VAT man. This, it rapidly became apparent, is actually rather reasonable considering what you get.

For starters, the X05 XTC 1500 is a sexy slip of a thing, under 30mm thick when closed and weighing in at a fraction over 2kg. This rises by 300g when you add what is possibly the most fashion-conscious power supply we’ve yet seen. With its rounded ends and silver-grey finish it looks more like a fancy sunglasses case than a mains voltage transformer, and we’re all for that.

Like most slimline notebooks, the X05 XTC 1500 is a two-spindle design, with the floppy drive sold separately as a £32 extra which plugs in via a USB port. The guts of the machine consist of a Pentium-M processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 512MB of PC2100 DDR SDRAM and a 40GB Fujitsu hard disk. This is a Centrino notebook, so you also get the benefit of 802.11b wireless networking on an upgradeable mini-PCI card. The £1,099 version has a 1.4GHz CPU, 256MB of RAM and a 30GB hard disk, but is otherwise the same, down to the fixed DVD/CD-RW combo drive and integrated Intel Extreme Graphics.

It’s difficult to make a notebook that’s only 27mm thick really robust, but Samsung has had the good sense to equip it with a metal lid to protect the screen properly, and it’s just up to you not to lean too heavily on the palm-rest. It would also be a good idea not to drop it, particularly if it’s fitted with the long-life 6-cell Li-ION battery like the review sample. This sticks out a couple of centimetres at the back, and in the way of such things, it’s vulnerable to a good bash. There is a 3-cell battery option (£49), which should yield about 2 hours of running time and which does not project from the case, but we’d probably be inclined to go for the longer-life one and just take care with the notebook generally.

When it comes to ports, the X05 XTC 1500 is mystifyingly well equipped in some areas and rather barren in others. For example, you not only get line-level audio I/O but also an optical S/PDIF digital surround output that can be used with a 5.1 speaker array. But there’s no parallel port, just two USB sockets, VGA and S-video TV-out. You do get FireWire and there’s an almost invisibly discreet slot at the front which will take flash memory cards in SD, Memory Stick and MMC flavours. There is, of course, an integrated modem, and also 10/100Base-TX Ethernet, plus a single Type II PC Card slot in case you discover that you need something else, like GPS.

The Intel Extreme Graphics 2 controller forming part of the i855GM motherboard chipset borrows memory from the rest of the system, but it also hands it back when it doesn’t need it any more. At any given time it will hold somewhere between 8MB and 64MB back for itself, but with 512MB in the kitty, you are unlikely to notice. The screen is your basic 14.1-inch TFT panel running at 1024 x 768 resolution, which is perfectly acceptable given the cost of the X05 XTC 1500, but we did notice that the side-lighting could have been a bit brighter.

The keyboard was fine, with large keys where they are supposed to be, and no confusing unorthodox twist in the layout or the key functions. Even the touchpad scored an extra point for having a vertical scroll wheel, which always makes life that bit easier.

Once we started using the Samsung X05 XTC 1500 it became apparent that it was seriously fast. We’d hoped it would be, what with the Pentium-M, the 512MB of DDR memory and the zippy Fujitsu hard disk, and we weren’t disappointed. You won’t get too exited by the 3D acceleration on offer by the Intel Extreme Graphics adapter, but this is essentially a business notebook, and as such it stands up very well indeed. We half expected battery life to trip the Samsung up, but in the event it ran quite happily for over 3.5 hours, which isn’t the stuff of new records, but is certainly enough to keep us happy.

The one year, collect-and-return warranty is good in all major European cities, and Samsung says it tries for a 72-hour turnaround, so if the worst does happen while you’re travelling, you might be able to get fixed wherever you are, although obviously it all depends on what’s gone wrong.

As we said at the start, this is a notebook with few faults and many good points. When you consider the price, particularly that of the cheaper XTC 1400 model, it’s also good value for money, and we’d certainly recommend it for a closer look.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 0800 521 652

With the X05 XTC 1500, Samsung has picked up the Centrino ball and run with it, as they say. All the advantages that should derive from Centrino are there - the speed, the slimmer, lighter case, the battery life, wireless - and all at a sensible price too.