Let's face it. Would you check out a notebook's interior if its design fails to interest you? No? Well, Samsung's X420 has given us reason enough to browse past its sexy shell just to see what lies inside. With its feather light weight of 1.76kg, we are already prepared to give the notebook a thumbs-up for starters. Let's flip open that shiny black lid to see if it hides a sweet spot or two.
Samsung didn't engineer anything radical with the X420, but it's good to know that they have gotten most of the elements right when it comes to crafting a mobile computer. Its screen of 1366 by 768 pixels resolution is powered by LED backlights, which explains the lid's ultra slim measurements. The display's glossy finish has notably given weight to its contrast levels and color depth as well. Brightness wise, we were able to work on the notebook with a 50% brightness setting under our office's blazing fluorescent lights. The X420's display sports a very healthy horizontal viewing angle, but like most LCD screens, its vertical axis is another story altogether.
It's easy to miss the speaker grilles if you didn't care to look. Seated just above the keyboard, Samsung has covered the X420's pair of 1.5W speakers with an inconspicuous design sandwiched between the hinges. There's only so much "oomph" notebook speakers can deliver. Still, the X420's audio performance was sufficiently clean during music and movie playback, coming from its Realtek HD audio controller and speakers. Build quality wise, we found the notebook's hinges to be nice and snug, and they should be able to weather a fair amount of wear and tear after prolonged usage.
Unlike typical "chiclet" designs found on the VAIOs and MacBooks, Samsung seems to have married that concept with a slightly better keyboard blueprint. To put things into perspective, its heightened keys do offer a comfortable tactile experience. More importantly, you won't have to worry about dust settling in between the keys since the gaps are mostly filled. Samsung's N310 netbook is one good example of a "dust collector" if you care to take a look. On another note, there isn't any dedicated hardware switches for its WiFi, meaning you'll have to rely on the F9 key to toggle its wireless adapter on or off. For those with heavy hands, worry not, for there's little flex on both the keyboard and wrist rest.
The X420's touchpad is a mixed bag of tricks. It could have been a tad wider, although its multi-touch feature was wonderfully functional as promised. Fancy finger-work such as pinch-and-zoom, two-finger swipes, and even rotations were mostly spot on. This can be fun, but not entirely critical with Windows 7 facilitating these functions. That said, we didn't like how the touchpad's keys were placed just above the "recess area" where the LED indicators are located. Reality is, our fingers landed on the status indicators rather than the keys most of the time.