Super-light, super-thin and priced at under £1,300, there's no other notebook that goes toe-to-toe with the MacBook Air in quite the way that the Samsung X360 does. It's lighter even than the recent MSI X-Slim X340, but is a superior quality machine that's built to last.

The only part of the X360 that carries any bulk at all is the battery, which takes the widest part from 16.5mm to just over 30mm. That doesn't detract from its appeal though: instead it rakes the keyboard slightly, making the X360 one of the most comfortable ultraportables there is to type on.

Low-power processor

That battery also delivers a whopping eight or nine hours of life in normal use, which is helped by the fact that the X360 uses one of Intel's latest low-power Core 2 processors, the U9300.

Its energy efficiency leaves it trailing behind the MacBook Air for desktop speed, though – an equivalently priced Apple comes armed with a 1.6GHz CPU and a much better graphics chip, too.

The thing is, the X360 does as much as it needs to. HD movies play smoothly at 720p and for office apps or photo-editing you'll never notice its shortcomings. The thoughtful extras Samsung has included more than make up for any deficiencies it has.

For a start, there's a USB hard drive included in the box, and a choice of three ports to plug it into on the X360's body. There's VGA and HDMI video ports, along with gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth and wireless N built-in.

Solid state

The 128GB hard drive is also Flash based, rather than a traditional spinning model. That goes some way towards making up the performance deficit of the CPU, and also helps with the astonishing battery life. It's unusual to get a solid-state drive at this price, which is possibly another reason Samsung has compromised so heavily on processor choice.

If there's a complaint, it's that the screen has a blue colour cast that is difficult to tune out, and the contrast levels aren't great despite the reflective coating.

If you can live with that, though, this is a machine that is a real pleasure to own and use – even more so than the better-specced and slightly more expensive Sony Vaio VGN-Z21.

The high-gloss finish may show up fingerprints, but it doesn't feel cheap. The two-tone lid – part finished in brushed aluminium – isn't the design disaster that such a choice usually signifies. Instead, it completes an elegant look that is all too rare in a Windows-based laptop.


Stuff says... 

Samsung X360 review

The spec sheet may seem sluggish, but the X360 is stupidly light, brilliantly well built and the best connected in its class