Samsung – X520 review

portable 15.6-inch laptop with good battery life
Photo of Samsung – X520

Samsung’s new X-series laptops are all about mobility, and the X520 slots in as the highest-specification model in the range.

It’s by no means feather-light, but considering it houses a 15.6-inch display and high-capacity six-cell battery, Samsung’s done well to keep the weight down to 2.2kg. The X520 is also reasonably compact, measuring 382mm wide, 256mm deep and 32.4mm thick.

Flip open the lid and you’re greeted by an impressive LED-backlit display that has a glossy coating and manages to produce bright, vivid images. Movie fans will also be pleased to hear that the 1366 x 768 native resolution gives it a 16:9 aspect ratio, so you won’t see any black bars when watching widescreen films.

Samsung’s opted to place a thin, silver rim around the base unit of the laptop. Whether this is tacky or classy is a matter of personal opinion, but it certainly makes the X520 stand out. Three USB ports are located on the right and placed fairly close together. Slip an extra-large USB device, such as a TV tuner, into one and you may find it blocks off the neighbouring port.

There’s no ExpressCard or PC Card slot, but the X520 does offer HDMI and VGA outputs. As far as wireless connectivity goes, both Bluetooth and WiFi are provided, with the latter able to take full advantage of any nearby 802.11n routers.

Samsung’s been particularly generous with the hard drive, supplying a 500GB model for you to store all your movies, games and music on. There’s also an SD card reader located on the front lip of the chassis.

The keyboard follows the same design as on previous Samsung laptops and features flat but full-size keys. A numeric keyboard is also included. Samsung could perhaps have afforded the trackpad a little more room, especially since it has multi-touch capabilities; trying to rotate photos using two fingers was particularly hard with the limited space available. The trackpad’s buttons are also too small for our liking, making them unnecessarily awkward to use, and have a very spongy feel.

Those interested in raw performance will no doubt be instantly put off by the inclusion of an Intel SU7300 processor that has a clock speed of just 1.3GHz. Despite being relatively low-powered, this ultra-low voltage processor is more than capable of handling the demands of the pre-installed Windows 7 and, thanks to 4GB of memory backing it up, is fine for the majority of tasks.

Of course, attempt a bit of gaming and you’ll be left bitterly disappointed at the low frame rates, but the use of integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics is just as much to blame for this as the processor.

Besides, being an ultra-portable laptop, the X520 isn’t designed to play games. What it is designed to do is provide long battery life. We ran a few tests on it and in the most demanding test (basically maxing out the processor) it managed to keep the lights on for three-and-a-half hours. In a slightly less-demanding test, this increased by just over an hour. Apply all the power-saving features and dim the screen, and you should be able to break the six-hour mark, which isn’t at all bad.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 0845 726 7864

Despite its low-powered processor, the X520 is perfectly adequate for undemanding users who aren't going to be doing much more than surfing the Internet, word processing and a bit of image-editing. And with good battery life and a decent keyboard, the X520 has got plenty going for it. On the downside, it's fairly expensive at £649. However, with Samsung releasing laptops like there's no tomorrow, its models tend to fall in price only a few months after they're released. And if the X520 follows this trend, it may well be available for around £500 after Christmas, which is more like the price we'd be willing to pay for it. As it stands, it's just a bit too expensive considering its relatively low-powered components.