Samsung Q320 review

2 Oct 2009

Blends portability and finesse with an impressively affordable asking price

Price when reviewed 
645
5

Samsung's Q320 is a fine example of the increasingly popular 13.3in laptop. It walks the fine line between Apple's minimalism and the attention-seeking gloss of dearer laptops, with the glossy black lid contrasting attractively against a matte-black interior and subtle chrome highlights.

But the Q320 is also a hardier notebook than its plain-Jane siblings, the R620 and R720. Both the base and the glossy lid feel up to taking a bit of abuse. That's a good thing, as at just 2.18kg the Samsung Q320 won't feel like a lead weight if you do decide to carry it about. Factor in the reasonable, if not exceptional, 4hrs 29mins of light-use battery life, and the Samsung makes a fine travelling partner.

Indeed, you may find you want to carry it around all the time. That most crucial of things, the keyboard, is in fine form with long-travel keys that give a responsive, positive feel and a layout that's free from foolish compromises.

There's an impressive turn of speed when you need it, thanks to the 2GHz Intel processor and 3GB of RAM. A result of 1.02 in our benchmarks isn't lightning-fast, but it's good enough for most jobs, and, thanks to the Nvidia G105M graphics chipset, it's also capable of some light gaming: 28fps in our low settings Crysis test isn't bad going at all.

The only disappointment is the Q320's LED-backlit display. The native resolution of 1,366 x 768 is a good match for the display size, but image quality isn't quite as good as we'd like. In isolation it looks perfectly acceptable, but next to better rivals, colours seem muted and it struggles to differentiate very light shades.

All the same, cast an eye through the specifications and you'll find simply nothing missing. A generous complement of memory and a 320GB hard disk sit alongside draft-n wireless and Bluetooth, while a comprehensive array of ports and connectors round off a keenly priced package.

So while the Q320 might not rival a MacBook Pro for sheer desirably, when it comes to value for money it leaves the Apple far behind.

Details

Price ex VAT £561
Price inc VAT £645
Overall rating 6
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 6
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 327 x 232 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.180kg
Travelling weight 2.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6400
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce G105M
Graphics card RAM 256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/150
Hard disk Samsung HM320JI
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-T633A
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 29min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 27min
Overall application benchmark score 1.02
3D performance (crysis) low settings 28fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery Partition
Software supplied CyberLink DVD Suite, CyberLink YouCam