Samsung Q70 review
The Q70 has a few foibles, but offers stylish design, good battery life and plenty of power in a 2kg package.
They don't make budget notebooks like they used to. Just a year or two ago, you'd have to put up with a poorly designed lump of plastic if you couldn't spend over a grand. Now, you can pick up a well-engineered, stylish machine such as this Samsung Q70.
A combination of Intel's 2GHz T7300 Core 2 processor and 2GB of RAM means there's enough grunt here to keep the Q70 looking speedy for several years. It raced through our benchmarks, scoring 1.01 overall - 1% faster than our reference 3.2GHz Pentium D desktop PC.
The Q70's even capable of some after-hours gaming: Nvidia's GeForce 8400M G graphics will struggle with modern games, scoring an average of 19fps in Call of Duty 2 at our low settings, but it can cope with older, less demanding titles.
There's a large hard disk on offer, too. It's nominally 160GB and, even after Windows Vista Home Premium has had its wicked way, there's still 140GB of space - Samsung splits this across two 70GB partitions, so you could use one for programs and one for data. Or, using Vista's own Disk Management tool, delete one and expand the first. There's also a hidden 10GB partition, used by Samsung's system-restore tool.
A DVD writer sits on the left-hand side of the chassis, and it writes to almost every format available, including DVD-RAM. For more instant data transfers, a handy slot sits under the touchpad, supporting SD/MMC, xD-Picture card and Memory Stick. You'll also find a mini-FireWire port on the side, but it's a little disappointing that Samsung only finds space for two USB ports - one at the rear, another hidden behind a plastic latch on the right-hand side, which is also where you'll find the VGA port and 56K modem connector.
The reason these ports aren't more conveniently located at the rear of the machine is the battery. It sticks out 17mm from the main body of the chassis; Samsung could have used a battery that sits flush, but there wouldn't have been much room inside for battery cells. As it is, the Q70 kept going for a respectable 3hrs 27mins in our light-use tests, and gave up after 1hr 12mins in our intensive test.a
The 2kg weight gives the Q70 fair claim to being a portable companion. At some point in the future you should also be able to buy an extended battery, which will boost the battery life by 50%. Even with the default battery, though, this isn't the most compact notebook we've seen. It flatters to deceive by measuring 32mm at the front, but at the rear it's 39mm. If you count the feet, that increases to 45mm. Despite this, if you pull out the Q70 at a meeting you can expect plenty of admiring glances. The shiny black lid gives a classy first impression, as does the brushed-aluminium casing.
The glossy screen may prove annoying in some environments, however. We found it fine when typing in Word or using Windows in general, but as soon as the background got darker we started to notice reflections. Where the glossy screen does work well is adding vibrancy to films and photos; if you're looking for a notebook that doubles up as a DVD player, the Q70 does an admirable job.
People typing up long reports might not be quite so chuffed with Samsung's choice of key positioning. One Shift button is tucked away at the far right of the keyboard, and we kept on hitting the "" button instead. The keyboard is quite compact as well; this is one area where Lenovo's 3000 V200 (web ID: 117831) wins out. Unless, that is, you're bacteria-phobic, in which case Samsung's promise of a bacteria-free keyboard might be the deal-killer - it's all down to "nano-sized silver ion powder", according to Samsung's website.