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  Samsung X10 Centrino 9/10. Date Posted 29/05/2003.

Samsung has been making notebooks for a while now, but it still is not as well known in this area as Toshiba and Sony. This notebook attempts to change the balance. Styled slightly like Sony's new Z1SP Centrino notebook, it looks quite impressive, (but maybe not quite as cool as the Sony!). Built around the new Pentium-M processor, models come in 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 GHz. I tested out the 1.5 GHz processor. Although 1.5 GHz might sound "slow", the idea of the Pentium-M is that to save power it has a lower clock speed, but in each cycle it does more. As a result the 1.5 GHz is comparable to an ordinary Pentium 4 2.5 GHz. The screen is 14.1 inchs and is reasonably good, but not quite as good as some of Samsung's desktop LCDs. At only 1.8 Kg, I could lift the machine with one hand. In terms of size, the 14.1 inch screen ensures the footprint is not very small. However in terms of thickness, it is probably the thinnest notebook I have ever seen (it even has a DVD/CD-RW). It is in fact lighter than NEC's Versa Centrino subnotebook with 12.1 inch screen and without CD drive.

The Samsung sports an Intel mini PCI 802.11b wireless network adapter, designed to preserve battery life. As such it can claim to be a "Centrino" machine. It has all the other standard features, like 10/100 wired ethernet, 56K modem, S-Video out, a mini Firewire port and also USB2 ports. It has a touchpad as well. Something very unusual is the addition of a fingerprint sensor. In my experience it proved quite reliable (only sometimes requiring a rescan of a finger). Software included allows you to encrypt files (and only decrypt them with a correct fingerprint). I'm not sure how useful most users will find the fingerprint sensor, but it does remove the need to learn long passwords.

In terms of battery life, I found I could squeeze 1.5 - 2 hours out of the machine (and that is with the wireless network on). The wireless network can be turned on and off by a button just below the screen. If you use the extended life battery, Samsung claim you can get 4 hours battery life (however I did not have this battery to verify the claims).

This notebook is fast, light, thin and a great choice. At around 1700 pounds though, it isn't the cheapest notebook (although it does undercut Sony's Z1SP Centrino notebook) so those on a budget might want to look elsewhere. I have used the notebook for around a month, so I cannot comment on long-term reliability compared to Toshiba or Sony notebooks. That factor is of course very important for corporate users.