Samsung Q70 review

17 Jun 2008

A worthy upgrade that adds power, battery life and versatility - although the same old niggles remain

Price when reviewed 
757
5

We first examined the original Samsung Q70 over a year ago, and we were impressed: a 13in notebook with copious amounts of power, a decent screen and long-lasting battery life. That was a while ago, though, so we've got our hands on a new model to see if the latest raft of updates maintains the high standard.

Several key parts of the already-impressive specification have seen alterations. Chief among these is a processor upgrade: where the original Q70 made do with a 2GHz T7300, the latest model includes a beefier, Penryn-based T8100, which runs at 2.1GHz.

The hard disk has also been improved, with its capacity jumping from 160GB to a far more generous 250GB. The wireless internet has also seen an upgrade, with the 802.11abg classification of the original Q70 being joined by the newer draft-n standard.

The only component that hasn't improved is the graphics. In fact, it has been downgraded: the Nvidia GeForce 8400M G has gone, in favour of Intel's GMA X3100 integrated graphics. It's not a huge loss, as neither GPU will have you playing modern games.

These changes mean that the Q70's performance sees a welcome boost. The original Samsung scored 1.01 in our 2D benchmarks, but this Q70 scored a 10% improvement overall; it won't have any trouble with the latest applications, and the 2GB RAM keeps it running smoothly.

Battery life is another area where the altered specification has had a positive effect. In our light use test, the Q70 lasted four hours - half an hour longer than the previous model.

The heavy use test - where we tax the computer with intensive benchmarks - gave us an hour and a half of use, an extra 19 minutes over the original. There's also a small indicator on the battery itself, so you don't have to boot the machine up to see how much charge you have left.

Aside from these changes, the Q70 is the same laptop as we've seen before - and so succeeds and fails in the same areas. It's undoubtedly a stylish-looking notebook: Samsung's familiar (and fingerprint-attracting) glossy black lid matches up with the angular base, which means that the two parts of the notebook dovetail together stylishly.

The screen is clear and vibrant, and ideal for general work - and we'd be confident to use it for photo editing, too. Our only complaint is that it's a little too glossy for our liking, which can make using the Q70 a bit of a hassle in brightly lit rooms. The added sheen does make games and movies look even better, though.

The keyboard is comfortable to use, although the layout is slightly odd. The Windows key is on the right-hand side, rather than the left, and the Function button occupies the bottom-left hand corner, rather than the Ctrl key. The keyboard doesn't take up all of the available space, either (there's an inch of empty chassis on either side of the keyboard), which makes the small Shift, Backspace and Enter keys seem superfluous.

The Q70 is quite bulky, too - the large base means that, at its thickest point, the Samsung is almost 5cm deep. The dimensions are worth considering if you'll be carrying the Q70 with you regularly, although the 2kg weight does mean that it's not prohibitively heavy.

While the few minor issues surrounding the Q70 may put you off, there's no doubt that it's a worthy update to an already solid notebook. The faster processor adds performance, the larger hard disk adds storage and the draft-n wireless improves its mobile credentials. It's still an impressive all-rounder.