Samsung Q320 notebook review

4 out of 5
£677

For

Good quality, strong 3D performance, highly portable

Against

Glossy lid is a magnet for prints

Over the past few years Samsung has released an impressive range of affordable laptops, mixing quality with features and usability. The Q320 continues this trend, and its portable nature makes it a great choice for business users.

The inside of this lappy is far more robust than the machine it replaces - the Q310 - featuring tough matt-black plastics that wear much better than the glossy finish favoured on the older machines.

Chrome highlights around the touchpad and hinges contrast nicely, although the design is still on the conservative side. Weighing in at just over 2.2kg, the Samsung offers similar portability to Apple’s MacBook.

As with several of its rivals, such as the Dell Studio XPS 13, you’ll find a glossy cover to the display that stretches right to the very edge of the panel. It looks great when the laptop’s turned off, hiding the bezel neatly and proving easier to clean, but it’s also a nightmare for reflections.

The screen features a 16:9 aspect ratio, measuring in at 13.4-inches. The resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels produces sharp image quality, and bright and accurate colours make it a good bet for media use. That said, the relatively low vertical pixel count can result in lots of scrolling on websites.

In addition to making it a great tool for watching films on, the widescreen aspect ratio also provides plenty of space for the interface, and the keyboard is large and comfortable to use. The keys also move quietly and with a perfectly judged action, adding a sense of quality.

The Q320 is the first laptop we’ve seen to feature Nvidia’s latest G105M graphics card. Considering the compact chassis, 3D performance is outstanding, with more power than any laptop we’ve tried under 14-inches. Along with running multimedia tasks with ease, we were even able to run games, making this a great all-rounder.

Other features are more standard, such as the 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor and 3072MB of memory. Office performance is reasonable, with applications running smoothly and with little lag. A battery life of around 4 hours is reasonable, and Samsung is also set to release a larger 12-cell battery for the Q320.

Storage space is generous at 320GB, and you’ll be able to back up your files using the integrated slot-loading DVD rewriter. There are three USB ports - one that also doubles as an eSATA high-speed data interface, letting you quickly copy files to external hard drives. Bluetooth is also included.

Monitors, projectors and HD TVs can all be connected, via the VGA and HDMI ports. Gigabit Ethernet is provided, offering speedy internet connections, along with 802.11n Wi-Fi.

Verdict

Overall, the Samsung Q320 is a surprisingly competent all-rounder. It may be small, but it’s also powerful enough for just about any task, and it’s sturdy and usable design makes it an attractive choice. Add to this a good feature set, and the Samsung does very little wrong.