Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Tuesday's laptop announcement from Samsung includes specialized models for travelers and business users, but what about the average home user who wants a solid laptop at a relatively low price? That's where the 13-inch Q310 and 16-inch R610 come in: neither as flashy as the ultraportables nor as rugged as the business models, the Q- and R-series laptops provide middle-of-the-road components and feature sets inside of attractive cases (featuring Samsung's "touch of color" design) at prices from $1,000 to $1,250.
Though it has a 13.3-inch display, the Samsung Q310 is a bit more modest than the company's sleek X360. Weighing 4.4 pounds and measuring 1.5 inches thick, the Q310's chunkier design and traditional LCD display help keep its price low, while its high-end looks will help it appeal to mainstream users who want an attractively designed laptop. Samsung is offering two fixed configurations of the Q310: a $1,199 version incorporates a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 processor and a 250GB, 5,400rpm hard drive, and a $1,249 version bumps the processor to a 2.26GHz Intel Core2 Duo P8400 and the hard drive to 320GB. Both models include integrated Intel X4500 graphics, 4GB of 800MHz RAM, and a built-in DVD burner.
For true media lovers, the Samsung R610 offers a 16-inch display with the 16:9 aspect ratio that's ideal for viewing HD video content. The laptop also has an ExpressCard/54 slot that lets you add a TV tuner. Otherwise, the R610 is a fairly typical budget entertainment laptop, with a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 processor, 4GB of 800MHz RAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS graphics, and a 250GB, 5,400rpm hard drive. The single fixed configuration is priced at $1,049.
Both the Q310 and R610 will be available by mid-November at such online retailers as NewEgg, Buy.com, CDW, and Amazon.