it comes to making a laptop, striking the right balance between power and
portability is a delicate task. The good news for us is that Samsung seems to
have pulled it off with the 13.3-inch, ultra-portable Q330, while managing to keep the laptop just under
the £600 mark.
It may have a low price tag, but the Q330 looks far from cheap. Samsung has given the plastic chassis a clever makeover with a brushed metallic effect that gives it a slightly more premium look. It's light, at just 2kg, and relatively slim, too. The rear of the machine measures 32mm and tapers off to just 23mm at the front. This means it's small enough to tuck comfortably into your luggage without taking up too much valuable space.
Equally important is the Q330's build quality, which is sound. It takes excessive force to ripple the screen and the chassis doesn't creak when you move it around like some cheaper laptops. Subsequently, we'd expect the Q330 to put up with all the knocks, bumps and bruises it's likely to suffer in the hands and bags of frequent travellers.
Port of callIt's only expected that an ultra-portable laptop is going to have a limited range of ports compared to a larger desktop-replacement model. The Q330 actually doesn't fair too badly on this front, all things considered. While it does only have three USB ports, one of those is a sleep-and-charge port, perfect for charging peripherals like cameras and mobile phones when the laptop's turned off. Alongside the VGA port, Samsung has managed to add an HDMI socket, which makes it possible to connect the laptop to an HD Ready TV. Sadly, the networking port is not Gigabit Ethernet-enabled, but there is 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Like many of today's premium laptops, the Q330 features isolated keys, which help to minimise typing errors and make using the keyboard a pleasure. Touch-typists will appreciate the extra space between the keys and their highly responsive nature. We also like the sizeable touchpad that feels smooth without being sticky, and its generously proportioned buttons. The screen is rather small, at just 13.3 inches, and has a pretty average resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. Despite its relatively diminutive specs, it's remarkably bright and delivers vivid colours, which makes for outstanding picture and video quality.
Power and perseveranceWith its super-swift, dual-core Intel Core i3-350M processor clocking 2.26GHz, and a beefy 3GB of RAM, the Q330 is an extraordinary performer. It racked up a score of 5,156 in our PCMark05 test, which puts it up there with some of the best-performing ultra-portables we've tested. As with most of its kind, however, its graphics performance isn't quite as brag-worthy. It uses an Intel GMA HD graphics chip, which pushed it to a score of 1,709 in 3DMark06 -- not exactly earth-shattering. If you want to play the latest games on this laptop, you'll have to turn the detail settings down somewhat to achieve a decent frame rate.
The Q330 packs a reasonably roomy 320GB hard drive for an ultra-portable, so you'll have no problem storing plenty of files, photos and videos. If you do find yourself running low on storage space, you can always back up your files to DVD thanks to the slim, multi-format DVD drive that Samsung managed to squeeze in.
In our highly intensive Battery Eater test, the Q330 managed to keep running for 1 hour and 20 minutes before it needed a recharge. This is a good show of stamina for a powerful ultra-portable, and you're likely to get even longer battery life from it with ordinary day-to-day usage.
We're mightily impressed with the Samsung Q300. It's easy on the eye, very slim and lightweight, and has plenty of grunt under its beautiful bonnet. At a reasonable asking price of around £600, we have no problem recommending this laptop.
Edited by Emma Bayly