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Samsung X360 Clouds Apple Air

Samsung X360 Clouds Apple Air
By

Exactly what made Samsung decide that now — Fall 2008 — was the prime time to enter the U.S. notebook business for the very first time, we’ll never know. In a weak retail economy and a presumably lackluster holiday season, Samsung launched five notebook lines. The X Series is, arguably, the sexiest. The X360-34P, the priciest. This is the machine Samsung sent us to test its mobile mettle.

Good thing, then, that the X360 makes an excellent first impression. Samsung’s fashion sense brings the X360 right to the top of the class in terms of high-end, fancy notebook retailers. This computer’s looks compare to those of Sony Vaios, Voodoo Envys and even Apple MacBooks and, unsurprisingly, those are its biggest competitors, which we’ll discuss more thoroughly later.

A contrast in lid materials gives the computer a black-tie look. About two thirds of the lid — from the hinge up — is made from a claret-colored brushed aluminum with a silky touch. The final third is a lacquered-up piano black. A tastefully small silver Samsung logo sits in the center of this shiny piece. In general, the two-tone effect is striking, but you probably don’t need to be reminded that the merest brush of skin against fresh piano-black lacquer leaves hideous streaks. Keep chamois at the ready.

Portions of the side and hinge are also covered in shiny black and so is the interior chassis, though the screen bezel and the keyboard’s immediate environs are not. When opening the notebook, you’ll notice that it has a bit of an under-bite: the lid doesn’t quite match up flush with the chassis and is about a centimeter off.

But it’s the feel of the X360 in your hands that Samsung wants to impress upon you most, more than its upscale looks. The company makes a point of blaring, in its marketing materials, “Lighter than Air.” Yes, that’s Air with a capital A — a direct reference to Apple’s manila-envelope residing ultralight machine. Voodoo (a division of HP) has also made Air references when discussing its Envy 133 notebook.

So, it is only natural that Samsung would get a bit sensitive about the X360’s size and weight. Everybody else out to compete with the Macbook Air has already given their machines a weight complex. Quickly, the details: The X360 weighs 2.8 pounds, and its dimensions are (W) 12.2 inches, (H) 8.9 inches, (D) 1.2 inches. The MacBook Air weighs three pounds, and its dimensions are (W) 12.8 inches, (H) 8.94 inches, (D) .16-.76 inches. The Voodoo Envy weighs 3.4 pounds, and its dimensions are (W) 12.7 inches, (H) 9 inches, (D) .7-inches.

Ultimately, the X360 is the lightest, the Air is the thinnest, and the Voodoo is a fatty — but is skinnier than the Air at a few points along its body.

A few things to consider, however. Rumor has it that Apple could soon begin using carbon fiber instead of aluminum to build the bottom chassis of the MacBook air. That could shave off key ounces to make the Air even lighter, while dethroning X360 as the lightest of them all.

Another point worth mentioning: While the X360 does feel sublimely light in the hand or on the lap, it is also a little bit, er, awkward since its weight isn’t evenly distributed. It has a hefty battery, and it feels bottom heavy. The front of the computer is nearly weightless, while the back bears it all.

Positioned on your lap, this weight-distribution issue doesn’t come into play. But when picking up the laptop, you feel it. We’ve lifted the Air, and while it is a tad heavier than the X360, it feels balanced.

But, when compared to the Air and Envy 133 (neither of which Tom’s Guide has formally reviewed), the X360 matches their build quality. All three machines are solid, and frankly, feel as expensive as they are.

The X360 also comes with a somewhat flimsy notebook sleeve.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2008 8:03 PM
    Samsung has been one of major players of notebook game in Korea. They also supplied some models to Compaq for US market.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2008 8:18 PM
    >>and buying it is about status — not value or practicality

    You're obviously an idiot! Because not having to worry about viruses and having a better user interface as well as a real Unix system, yes, I'm a Unix/Linux developer, are all obviously not about practicality! There can be even additional reasons. For example my home and workplace is Microsoft free which means that I'd have to add yet another O/S to what I already have to deal with so far, if I picked anything with Windows on it. But as you so insightfully put it: my choices are "about status — not value or practicality."
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , November 19, 2008 8:26 PM
    Johannes>>and buying it is about status — not value or practicalityYou're obviously an idiot! Because not having to worry about viruses and having a better user interface as well as a real Unix system, yes, I'm a Unix/Linux developer, are all obviously not about practicality! There can be even additional reasons. For example my home and workplace is Microsoft free which means that I'd have to add yet another O/S to what I already have to deal with so far, if I picked anything with Windows on it. But as you so insightfully put it: my choices are "about status — not value or practicality."

    Hi Johannes,

    Thanks for your comment, though I would appreciate if readers instituted a ban on name-calling. If you read my review carefully, you'd see that my review specified that a purchase of the MacBook Air is about status--not that a purchase of ANY Apple is about status. Does this opinion make me an idiot?

    I think we can all agree that the Air is an overpriced product--that doesn't mean that people shouldn't buy it if they like it. If someone really wants to be *practical* while at the same time staying away from Windows, there are plenty of better options than the MacBook Air.

    thanks,

    Rachel Rosmarin, Editor of Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2008 8:51 PM
    "to enter the notebook
    business for the very first time,"

    May be for the US, but definitely not in Korea. My Korean friend already used Samsung laptop for many years now.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , November 19, 2008 8:57 PM
    Gateaux"to enter the notebookbusiness for the very first time,"May be for the US, but definitely not in Korea. My Korean friend already used Samsung laptop for many years now.

    Good point--I definitely meant the U.S. notebook market!

    Rachel Rosmarin, Editor of Tom's Guide
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , November 19, 2008 9:17 PM
    A Thinkpad X200 to rule them all. Nothing beats really good design.
  • 0 Hide
    oritpro , November 19, 2008 9:19 PM
    Thanks for a great article Rachel and I agree that the Air is an overpriced status symbol. What I don't agree with is the previous comment that OSX and Linux provide a worry free environment that is safe from viruses. That is just simply not true and the people that believe it are either kidding themselves or too ignorant to know better.

    OSX, Linux, and Windows have their pros and cons, and all are excellent operating systems in their own right. But there is no such thing a completely secure operating system.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the x360. Although the timing isn't great, Samsung makes some quality stuff and their new notebook should give the competition a run for its money.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 2:32 PM
    I don't think the voodoo envy has a built in optical drive. It comes with an external one
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 4:47 PM
    Rachel I think the envy does not have a built in optical drive, mnemneth has a point. Anyway great article. For me the carbon finish of the Envy makes it a far better choice than the AIR.
    @Johannes: You might be a unix developer but you are a rude one and you lack the manners normally associated with one of your skill(not to say an Apple user).
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , November 20, 2008 4:53 PM
    mnemnethI don't think the voodoo envy has a built in optical drive. It comes with an external one

    Thanks, fact-checking, and correcting.
  • 0 Hide
    zak_mckraken , November 20, 2008 7:32 PM
    Quote:
    But because the X360 has an uber-efficient flash-based SSD, somehow we were expecting a longer battery life through BatteryEater


    I don't know the specs of this hard drive SSD but most SSD drives consumes more energy overall because they have a higher power consumption at idle or low workload. Of course I suppose the BatteryEater suite also utilizes the HDD so maybe that point is irrelevant here.

    Anyway, this is a very sexy machine and I'm wishing Samsung a lot of success in the U.S. notebook market.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 7:36 PM
    Nice review, very informative.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 20, 2008 11:25 PM
    Hey Johannes, maybe you should calm down and actually read the article outside your elitist attitude. Put the handheld mirror down for few minutes and apologize to Rachel Rosmarin for your rude behavior. She was obviously refering to the Air machine, not the operating system. You should be nicer because your anger and elitist attitude is going to land you in bad places one day.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , November 21, 2008 12:05 AM
    oritproThanks for a great article Rachel and I agree that the Air is an overpriced status symbol. What I don't agree with is the previous comment that OSX and Linux provide a worry free environment that is safe from viruses. That is just simply not true and the people that believe it are either kidding themselves or too ignorant to know better.OSX, Linux, and Windows have their pros and cons, and all are excellent operating systems in their own right. But there is no such thing a completely secure operating system.Thanks for the heads-up on the x360. Although the timing isn't great, Samsung makes some quality stuff and their new notebook should give the competition a run for its money.

    +1

    Good article!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 22, 2008 2:07 PM
    Thanks for a pretty well done review. I am really excited by this product, it has just exactly what I am looking for and not much else (well ok, maybe the fingerprint scanner is unnecessary but pretty damn cool anyhow :D  )

    One thing that I still feel unsure about tho, is how x360 compares to MB Air, in terms of performance etc. I am not so picky about the little differences in weight and/or measures as long as the machine has a better performance to justify it. I am a very very content Mac user and that's mostly thanks to the wonderful operating system, Tiger. However I am not too happy about Apple's strategies in designing models (i.e. they don't have a wide enough product span) and pricing. So I could definitely imagine buying X360 and installing a nice good old Linux on it.

    As I said, are there any references of a test with these two products with focus on performance?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 23, 2008 4:29 PM
    Hey Unix/Linux developer guy, you know there's this thing you can do with wintel boxes. it's called install your own os. If you don't like windows, then install something else, sheesh- you sound pretty helpless for an all-powerful developer. If you think *nix is virus free you're the idiot. It's developers like you that make the jobs of systems engineers like me so difficult. I have to write better monitors to protect my enterprise against shortsighted code written by developers like you.

    If you can't work with multiple OSes, you can't be that good a developer.

    and clearly at least to us mortals, at this price range, practicality an value are playing second fiddle since there are ultraportables for half the price.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 5, 2008 10:58 PM
    Well, i just installed Kubuntu 8.10 on it, with KDE4.2beta1 and it works fine. KDE4 makes it a great machine. A pity it comes by default with DOS instead of Linux.
  • 0 Hide
    scanboat , February 14, 2009 8:49 AM
    Could be have a comment to fan noise or not from the tester... Thanks in advance -
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 9, 2009 4:29 PM
    I would love to hear about fan noise / how often fan is on. Noise has always been my first priority when evaluating a notebook computer. I love the 'PowerManager' applet from Lenovo that allows one to prioritize for minimal fan use. Great article!
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