Samsung Does Notebooks

By  |  Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 12:39 am

If it weren’t for a certain other laptop-related announcement, the big news in laptops today would undoubtedly be this: Samsung is going to begin selling portable computers again in the U.S., re-entering one of the few personal electronics categories it doesn’t play in. (The company has been out of the market for a long time, with the exception of its Ultra Mobile PC.)

Actually, this is still reasonably big news. I got a sneak peek at the new Samsungs recently, and from what I saw, the company’s explanation of why it retreated from the PC market for so long–because it wanted to wait until it could do things right–rings true. It’s returning with a pretty full line of portables, skewing towards the high end. And Samsung being Samsung, nearly every component in these machines is actually made by Samsung, except for the CPUs, graphics, and operating systems.

The flagship is probably the X360, a MacBook Air-class machine that has a 13.3-inch LED backlit screen, weighs 2.8 pounds, and is .6″ thick at its thinnest point. It sports an Intel ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo processor and Intel GMX300 graphics, and has a few features that the Air–or at least the Air that’s current as of the time I write this–doesn’t have, including stereo speakers, a fingerprint scanner, and an Express Card slot. The X360 starts is $1899 for a configuration with a 120GB hard drive; $2499 for a deluxe model with a 128GB solid-state drive:

The X460 is a sort of big brother to the X360 with similar industrial design, a 14.1-inch LED backlit display, a Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU and NVidia GeForce 9200M GS graphics with 256MB of RAM, and a DVD burner; it’s still pretty light at 4 pounds. Prices begin at $1699.

The R610 is a big, beefy desktop replacement aimed at students, with a Core 2 Duo T5800, GeForce 9200 M GS with 512MB,  and a 16-inch display; it weighs 6.1 pounds and lists for $1049.

Inevitably, Samsung is introducing a netbook–the NC10. It’s got an Intel Atom processor at 1.6-GHz, 1GB of RAM, a reasonably roomy 160GB hard drive, and a relatively large 10.2-inch display, and weighs in at 2.8 pounds. It’s $499 and is only available with Windows XP, and comes in white or blue (the other new Samsungs have a distinctive red-and-black look).

Other models in the lineup include the Q310, a midsized model with a 13.3-inch screen that starts at $1149, and two enterprise-oriented machines, the P460 and P560.

Everything comes with a one-year warranty, and Samsung says it’s kept trialware and other extraneous applications to a minimum. I haven’t used any of them, but the industrial design and fit and finish look good, and they seem solid in terms of specs for the price points they hit. (But with only the netbook costing under a grand, Samsung is obviously hoping to compete in the high end of the market against companies like Sony and Apple, rather than the bargain basement where a lot of notebooks compete these days.)

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