by Duncan McGill, United Kingdom
note to readers: Samsung notebooks are not available in North America, the Samsung X06 being reviewed was purchased in the UK and as such all prices quoted are in British pounds
Overview and Introduction:
The Samsung X06 is one of a raft of recent offerings from Samsung. It comes under their “Thin and Light” range, though I’d suggest in practice it fits somewhere between “Thin and Light” and “Ultra-Portable”. I suspect Samsung were designing a machine for modestly stingy people wanting performance and a CD-RW/DVD in a remarkably small 14.1″ case. There have been a few concessions to achieve this, but they are minor compared to the resulting portability and performance gains. You can carry the X06 around town without noticing its weight or bulk and yet it has a large enough screen and processing power to make using bigger applications an almost “desktop-replacement” experience.
Samsung X06 (view larger image)
- Pentium M 740 (1.73 Ghz)
- Alviso 915 chipset
- RAM 512MB
- 14.1″ XGA screen
- Weight: 1.98kg (4.4lbs)
- Dimensions: 315mm x 259mm x 25mm (12.4 in x 10.2 in x .99in)
- Intel Integrated GMA900 graphics
- 60GB HDD 5400RPM
- Intel 2200 B/G wireless built-in
- Microsoft Windows XP Pro
- Samsung X06 product page: http://www.samsungpc.com/products/x06/x06.htm
Reasons for Buying:
The two biggest applications I need to run are Dreamweaver and Photoshop, both of which lend themselves to larger screens and higher powered notebooks. On the other hand, I travel often and so I was also looking for something that was small enough to take as carry on luggage AND still have room for other stuff. I also wanted it to be light enough to give my shoulder a break when lugging it around.
I looked at a few lower cost Sony Vaio’s but there was always a drawback such as only having 256MB RAM, a slower processor or a 40mm thick case. I’m not saying the Vaio’s are bad, just that nothing in my price range suited my requirements.
I noticed the Samsung X06 early in my search as its weight of 1.98kg, thickness of 25mm (just under 1 inch thick) and its Pentium M 1.73Ghz processor really caught my eye. I forced myself to stop considering it when I discovered it didn’t have Bluetooth or infrared and because it was more expensive than other similar spec’d, though larger, machines. I simply couldn’t justify it with my budget. I seriously considered a few infinitely more sensible options but in the end I, impulsively and with a somewhat guilty feeling, bought the X06.
Samsung X06 collapsed open view (view larger image)
Where and How Purchased:
I bought the Samsung X06 online from the UK site www.savastore.com at a price of 755-pounds ($1,297 USD) including sales tax and, although I could find several cheaper options (around 10-pounds – 15-pounds cheaper), the “pay nothing for 9 months” interest free deal suited me. This financing cost an extra 25-pounds ($43 USD) and was very easy to arrange. Once approved it was delivered the next day.
Build & Design:
There were very few photos of the machine on the net and I couldn’t find any reviews so I was initially apprehensive waiting for it to arrive. Nevertheless, the fact that Samsung is a respected brand went someway to making me feel better about it.
Opening the box was a relief — the magnesium case felt very sturdy and amazingly light and the metallic finish looks functional and elegant. The hinges are strong and there is exactly the right amount of friction opening and closing the lid. The single lid latch has a small amount of play, though when the lid is closed it holds firm without play.
There is a small amount of flex in the screen, but because it’s so slim it’s amazing there isn’t more. Pushing behind the screen resulted in a small amount of rippling and interestingly, no matter where I pushed on the back of the screen, the rippling always seemed to emanate from the same spot in the left part of the screen. I am a little wary of this, but nothing near concerned enough to consider returning it.
The only mechanical flaw I could find was in one of the two battery locks. They both clip in firmly and hold the battery solidly in place; however one of them doesn’t have any spring back effect like the other one. (ie- the way a normal laptop lid catch will spring back into place once it has been released). Again, this isn’t enough for me to consider returning it.
Samsung X06 Left side view (view larger image)
Samsung X06 Right side view (view larger image)
Samsung X06 Back side view (view larger image)
Samsung X06 under side view (view larger image)
The XGA 14″ screen with resolution of 1024 x 768 has consistent brightness and no dead pixels, though it won’t be suitable for those who like wide screens. The definition isn’t quite as sharp as my previous Dell 510m, which had a SXGA 15″ screen and a resolution of 1400 x 1050, but there isn’t much in it. There’s certainly not enough difference in screen real estate for me to think about it again.
The speakers are rubbish. If you need good sound from your notebook then look elsewhere. The Dell 510m had tinny speakers and the X06 speakers aren’t even close to those.
Processor and Performance:
I haven’t noticed any hang time at all on this machine. It takes 40sec booting up to the login screen on XP Pro, but everything else opens quickly. I even played a little “Medal of Honor”, a first person shoot ’em up, and surprisingly there weren’t any problems on high detail. Having said that, I didn’t test it thoroughly and, if I did, I’d expect to be disappointed as the integrated graphics GMA900 apparently isn’t the horse of choice for hard core gamers. I’ll probably get another half Gig of RAM for Photoshop but this should be less than 30-pounds.
To get a readout of overall processor performance we use the program Super Pi to force the processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy. Below are the timed results of running this program for the Samsung X06 and some comparison times from other laptops.
|Samsung X06 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 44s|
|Dell Inspiron 9300 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
PC Mark04 overall score: 3106
Keyboard and Touchpad:
Samsung X06 keyboard and touchpad area (view larger image)
The keyboard is great. Compared to other laptops I’ve used there is exactly the right amount of friction and travel of the keys and keyboard in general feels firm. The only issue is in the placement of an “Fn” key on the outside of the square left “control” button. The implication here is that the control button is small and difficult to find when using it for copying & pasting etc.
The touch pad is smaller than I’m used to but I don’t think it will take long to acclimatise. It’s also more recessed into the case and this means there is less chance of accidentally hitting it when typing — great!
As far as the scroll wheel goes, I’m not so impressed — I can use it, but it’s more fiddly than having a scroll bar incorporated in to the touch pad.
Input and Output Ports:
- 2 x USB 2 ports
- 1 x 1394 port
- No parallel port
- PCMIA type I & II
- Multi-card reader (SD, Memory stick & Memory Stick Pro)
- Monitor & TV output
I couldn’t get the Intel 2200 B/G wireless to work on the installed driver but after downloading another one from Intel it worked straight away. No Bluetooth and no infrared — a big drawback for me, but the size of the machine won the day when it came to a decision.
It’s advertised as being 2 hours or over 4 hours with a larger battery. After a first full charge the battery faded quickly — it used around 50% of the charge in 30 minutes. Since then it seems to be getting better over time and I am now getting over the advertised 2 hours. I’ll probably get the larger battery at some stage, though I haven’t found how much this battery costs yet.
Operating System and Software:
Windows XP Pro was pre-installed and a recovery disk was included. Also included were a couple of disks with Nero, drivers, Samsung extras and Norton anti virus with a 3 month license.
I used Samsung UK customer support once when I called to find out more about the machine before purchase. After a short wait on the phone the guy who answered was helpful, knowledgeable and appeared unbiased. As for a warranty, I can get a 2 year extension over the initial 1 year for an extra 125-pounds. This is a Europe wide collect and return service.
The lousy speakers, modest battery life and lack of infrared or Bluetooth are the only drawbacks for me. Getting a bigger battery will be expensive but probably worth it. I can use the card slot to sync with my mobile or, alternatively, I can get a Bluetooth USB dongle for 5- 10 pounds on Ebay. I don’t mind about the speakers as it was never meant to be a stereo or a games machine for me.
I REALLY like the Samsung X06’s small size and performance. The price, while not budget, remains considerably less than other machines that aren’t significantly better in either form or function.
The only things that would improve this machine for me would be to add infrared or Bluetooth and to extend the battery life beyond 2 hours. I would highly recommend the Samsung X06 as reasonably priced, perfectly sized for mobility and well spec’d for performance to anyone except serious gamers or snobby multimedia types.