With the X460-44P Samsung does more than just cram an ultrabright 14.1-inch display and an optical drive into a remarkably thin chassis. This machine exudes style like no other notebook in its class, which is not all that surprising given that Samsung has been producing envy-enducing laptops for several years overseas. The X460-44P ($1,699) backs up its good looks with solid graphics performance and above-average battery life, plus security features, such as a built-in fingerprint reader and TPM authentification. Some may prefer the even thinner and lighter 13-inch Samsung X360, which offers a solid state drive but no optical drive. But we prefer this more reasonably-priced status symbol because the X460-44P offers a bigger screen and discrete graphics while remaining easy to carry.
Adding flair to a business notebook is a tricky proposition. Too much bling, and you’ll be laughed out of the conference room; don’t pay enough attention to style, and colleagues and clients will scoff at your run-of-the-mill machine. With the X460, Samsung strikes just the right balance between fashion and buttoned-down formality: A good three-quarters of the lid is adorned with a brushed aluminum panel done up in red, and the rest of the notebook gets the glossy black treatment. The design works, and it will certainly turn more heads than, say, the Dell Latitude E6400, HP EliteBook 6930p, or even the Sony VAIO Z series.
Click to enlargeWhen it comes to size and weight, the X460-44P has few peers in its class. The system weighs 4.2 pounds and measures from 0.8 inches at its thinnest point to 1.3 inches at its thickest. The Fujitsu LifeBook S6520, for example, is lighter at 4 pounds, but it’s 1.2 inches thick all around, and its black and silver design (with white keyboard) looks bland by comparison. On the other hand, having a glossy chassis means you should expect smudging, and the X460-44P is no exception; you’ll want to polish this portable regularly. The X460-44P feels sturdy, though, thanks to its magnesium alloy frame.
Click to enlargeFlip the X460-44P over and you’ll notice some interesting features. A battery life meter lights up when you press a small button, which tells you at a glance what percentage of juice you have left—without having to turn the system on. This is a nice touch, as are the clearly marked and easily accessible panels for upgrading the memory and hard drive.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Click to enlargeFollowing in the footsteps of Apple and Sony, the X460-44P features an island keyboard layout that’s distinguished by low-profile keys that have a good deal of space between them. Despite having a feel that’s a bit soft, the keyboard remained comfortable during extended typing sessions. Samsung claims that the X460-44P’s keyboard resists bacteria, thanks to a silver nano coating.
The deck lacks dedicated volume controls, which is a bummer, but you can easily adjust both the volume and screen brightness using the Fn key in combination with the arrow keys. The smooth touchpad is just the right size, with a dedicated scrolling area that worked well. The two glossy mouse buttons were quiet and responsive. Our only nitpick is that the keyboard isn’t backlit.
Display and Audio
It’s bright. Very bright. That’s because the 14.1-inch, LED-backlight panel on the X460-44P pumps out 300 nits, which is about 50 nits brighter than most notebooks. This notebook would work easily to give presentations for small groups, and the side-to-side viewing angles were generous. However, the 1280 x 800-pixel resolution isn’t terribly sharp compared with some other 14-inch business machines with 1440 x 900 displays. More troubling are the narrow vertical viewing angles on the X460-44P; tilting the screen just a bit backward causes a marked shift in clarity.
Given that the X460-44P has two tiny speakers above the keyboard, we were pleasantly surprised by the output. When streaming the Arctic Monkeys’ “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” over Pandora, the notebook delivered rich sound and above-average volume for a thin-and-light notebook. Generally speaking, the audio and video live up to the Samsung brand.
Above the display is a 1.3-megapixel webcam, which we tested during a Skype video call. Our caller said we looked clear and that blurring was minimal when we waved an arm in front of the camera. At full-screen we looked grainy, but such is the case with most webcams. Audio in both directions was good, with only some tinniness, and sufficiently loud.
Ports and Docking
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Because the X460-44P is thinner toward the front than other business notebooks usually are, some ports are placed on the back out of necessity, which some may find inconvenient. These include a modem connector, a USB port, and an HDMI connection for outputting video and audio to a bigger screen. All you’ll find on the front lip of the system is a 7-in-1 memory card reader.
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On the left are (from front to back) the headphone and mic jacks, a second USB port, VGA connector, and Ethernet jack.
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On the right are an ExpressCard/34 slot, DVD burner, the third USB port, and Kensington lock slot. Some may lament the lack of a FireWire port but we didn’t miss it. What we do find issue with is that the ExpressCard slot is a little shallow; when we inserted a Sprint modem card it stuck out about a half inch more than we’d like, especially compared with the Sony VAIO Z series.
Like most business notebooks, Samsung offers a docking station for the X460-44P that fits into a docking connector on the bottom of the system. Called the P Dock, this $199 accessory will provide an additional five USB ports, an eSATA connector (for ultra-fast hard drives), a DVI port, as well as old-school ports like serial and PS/2.
The X460-44P is certainly one of the speedier thin-and-light notebooks we’ve tested, starting with its refreshingly brisk boot time of 49 seconds. That’s nearly 20 seconds faster than the category average. Although we couldn’t get our PCMark Vantage test to run on this notebook, its 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor and 3GB of RAM offer good productivity and multitasking performance. With multiple programs open, the X460-44P took 7 seconds to open Premiere Elements 7, and it took only a second longer while performing a system scan with Windows Defender.
To further test the system’s performance we converted a 114MB MPEG-4 video file to a Flash file (using AVS Video Converter). The X460-44P did the job in 3 minutes and 1 second, while the Fujitsu LifeBook S6520, which has a faster 2.4-GHz processor but 2GB instead of 3GB of RAM, took 3:58. It’s worth noting that the bottom left side of the X460-44P became warm during prolonged usage, but it didn’t get uncomfortable.
The X460-44P’s spacious 320GB hard drive was quick. It completed the LAPTOP Transfer Test (copying 4.97GB of mixed media files) in 4 minutes and 52 seconds, which works out to a transfer rate of 17.4 MBps. That’s about 1 MBps above average.
Plenty of 14.1-inch notebooks have discrete graphics (as opposed to generally weaker integrated graphics cards), but the X460-44P is one of the thinnest laptops with this type of power. Its Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS card allowed the system to notch a 3DMark03 score of 5,970, which is double the thin-and-light average. And its 3DMark06 score of 2,082 is 739 points higher than average. So you’ll have more muscle for photo and video editing.
You can also expect decent gaming performance. When playing <i>F.E.A.R.</i> the X460-44P managed 62 frames per second on autodetect settings and a respectable 35 fps with the settings maxed. That’s not too shabby compared with the the thin-and-light averages of 41 fps and 14 fps, respectively.
Battery Life and Wireless
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the X460-44P’s endurance. The good news is that the machine’s six-cell battery lasted 4 hours and 18 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test. That’s considerably less than the rated 6-hour runtime but still slightly above the category average of 4:04. The bad news is that if you want even more battery life you’re going to have to pay a high price; Samsung sells a beefier nine-cell battery for a whopping $229. In comparison, adding a nine-cell battery to a Dell Latitude E6400, costs only $99.
We have no complaints about the X460-44P’s wireless performance. It’s 802.11n connection delivered throughput of 20.4 Mbps at 15 feet from our router, and 18.0 Mbps from 50 feet. Both scores are well above average, so you should expect good range out of this system in the home and office.
Software and Warranty
We’re glad that Samsung didn’t load up the X460-44P with hard drive–clogging third-party programs or trial offers. It included only trial versions of McAfee Virus Scan and Microsoft Office 2007. Samsung does bundle an array of its own utilities, including Samsung Magic Doctor (for diagnosing the system and fixing any problems) and Samsung Update Plus (for downloading the latest software and drivers), and the self-explanatory Samsung Recovery Solution III, Easy Display Manager, and Easy Network Manager. The X460-44P is backed by a one-year standard parts and labor warranty and 24/7 technical support.
Click to enlargeAlthough it’s not quite the lightest 14.1-inch notebook around, the Samsung X460-44P is certainly the thinnest, and it offers more style than all of its business notebook competitors. Plus, this machine provides a good one-two punch of performance and battery life. We wish the nine-cell battery option cost less, and that Samsung offered integrated mobile broadband connectivity. Also keep in mind that you can’t configure this system to order; what you see is what you get. But overall the X460-44P is one of our favorite thin-and-light notebooks.