Two days with a heavy Thinkpad on your back wandering around the small German city state that is the Hannover Fairgrounds focuses the mind marvellously on why lightweight, ultra-thin laptops have become so popular.
And when such a machine hoves into view it looks a lot like an oasis must to a desert traveller. So it was with the Samsung Q30. Love at first sight for a man with an aching back. Six months later and I finally got my hands on one and it’s true love.
If it’s the size of the Q30 that first grabs the attention – it is just 2.4cm thick and weighs 1.1 kg – it is its looks that make the sale.
The Q30 is sexy, and absurd as that may sound – this is nothing more than a computer after all – there really is no other way of putting it. The beautiful, crimson matt finish merely emphasises its appeal. (It also comes in silver for those who like to make a less flamboyant statement with their technology.)
Despite its size, however, the Q30 is surprisingly user-friendly. On many smaller notebooks the keyboard and touch pad can be somewhat claustrophobic, but not here, where clumsy finger keystroke misses have been minimal. It may be that the widescreen gives the illusion of space.
The 30cm screen is another wonder of this model. Samsung describe it as “Super Bright,” and so it is, displaying colours as vivid as I can recall seeing on a laptop.
An early concern would be that on performance the Q30 would not be able to match the Thinkpad, which is an excellent, robust laptop that has served me well for three years.
But my needs from a laptop are limited: word processing, e-mail and internet, the odd stint on the excellent Age of Empires and watching the occasional DVD. Nothing that the vast majority of machines can’t handle while operating at half capacity. With the exception of Age of Empires (which I haven’t tried yet having lost the disc in another home office reorganisation) the Q30 passes all of them without ever quite matching the performance of bigger machines,
But life is about compromise and size does matter. And despite making such a tiny machine, Samsung have packed a lot in it: it runs on an ultra low voltage 1.2 Ghz Pentium M processor and Centrino 802.11g wireless technology. It also has 512mb of memory as standard and a 60GB hard drive.
That won’t be enough for everybody of course and those plotting the course of Nasa’s next moon mission would be well advised to buy something else. But if you just want to play Hearts, tap out the odd Word file and look up train times online without suffering herniated discs, this machine will do it for you quickly enough.
Another concern was the Q30’s battery power, something that fellow commuters have asked about during train journeys. (The train is often a very good place for tech hints, as commuters are a knowledgeable group of people with exacting standards.) But both the standard and extended batteries can handle the round trip journey (approximately 150 minutes) and although I haven’t tested it, the literature suggests the extended battery would be able do it twice.
I haven’t yet subjected the Q30 to what I now call the Wimbledon test, which is to drop it on the unforgiving platform at the eponymous railway station, a mishap that once did for a Sony Vaio. And I’ll be trying not to. Love is hard to find, and should not be given up easily.
The Q30 retails for about £1,300 in the UK and similar prices overseas.