Tools Of The Trade: The Samsung Q30 laptop

For someone who already owns a desktop computer and wants something for travelling, but whose demands are too great for a PDA (personal digital assistant), a lightweight laptop would seem to make sense.

Samsung's Q30 is a good example of the type: it is very thin (under an inch thick) and very light, at 1.1kg. Carrying it around all day is not a burden, and it is not going to tip the check-in scales at the airport, either. On top of which, the computer feels well made, so it should be able to handle life on the road with few problems.

The compromise that most business users will accept, in return for portability, is a relatively low-powered machine. The Q30 has a 1.1GHz processor, which might be too pedestrian for heavyweight applications but is fine for word processing, email or using a spreadsheet. The laptop comes with 512MB of memory, which boosts performance, and its widescreen display is very clear.

The difficulty is that those users who would benefit most from the Q30's design - business people who spend a lot of time on the road - are also the least likely to be able to accept its other compromises. The low-speed graphics hardware makes it less than suitable for multimedia use.

In order to keep down size and weight, the Q30 relies on an external drive that will read DVDs and write CDs. This design is awkward for anyone who spends most of their time travelling, and the drive itself is relatively slow.

Packing the extra drive does not add too much to the weight of the Q30, but finding room for it in a crowded space, such as an aeroplane tray table, might prove trickier.

The Q30 also has a relatively poor battery life. The manufacturer's claim of three hours is optimistic, although Samsung does include a second, bulkier battery in the package. A further problem, for workers outside the office, in particular, is the absence of a PC card slot on the Q30.

Not everyone will need such expansion capability, but without it, there is no way to connect a 3G data card. This is an increasingly popular option for business travellers.

As the Q30 has no Bluetooth connection, either, the only way to communicate wirelessly, outside a WiFi hotspot, is via a USB cable. Not all mobile phones come with these.

The machine does make up for this by including WiFi along with wired ethernet in the main unit, as well as slots for a range of multimedia cards including secure digital (SD) and Sony's Memory Stick. The 40GB internal hard drive is also quite roomy for a highly mobile device.

The Samsung Q30 is a stylish and very portable computer, but it is hard to see exactly who it is targeted at.

Its light weight would make it ideal for frequent travellers with modest processing needs, but its communications limitations make it hard to recommend, unless you can manage with WiFi alone.

THE VERDICT

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pros: lightweight, smart design.

Cons: external DVD drive, no Bluetooth or PC card slot.

Price: £1,090 excluding VAT.

Contact: www.samsung.co.uk

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