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Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium review: Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium

Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
5 min read

Once full of promise and impressive feats of engineering, the ultramobile PC category has fallen on hard times, outmaneuvered by a cheaper, more capable class of systems known as Netbooks or mininotebooks. Best exemplified by the popular Asus Eee PC, these laptops use the same small screens and low-power CPUs as most UMPCs, but keep the traditional keyboard/touchpad interface and usually cost between $400 and $700, while many UMPCs cost $1,500 and as much as $2,500.


Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium

The Good

Lightweight; excellent battery life; relatively roomy hard drive.

The Bad

Multiple input options, all of which are awkward; design gets only slight update from previous versions; more expensive than new Netbook-style laptops.

The Bottom Line

The new generation of similarly sized Netbooks do more and cost less than the Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium, putting another nail in the UMPC coffin.

Samsung's Q1 Ultra was always among our favorite UMPCs, thanks to its reasonable price, BlackBerry-style keyboard, and touch screen. This is the third version of this system we've looked at, and the $1,399 Q1 Ultra Premium seems an awful lot like the earlier models. That was fine in the pre-Netbook era, but the Q1 has clearly not changed enough with the times. There may still room for a device that's equal parts BlackBerry, iPhone, and Eee PC--but Samsung will have to invest in a serious redesign to hit that ambitious benchmark.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $1,399
Processor 1.3GHz Intel Core Solo U1500
Memory 1GB, 533MHz DDR2
Hard drive 80GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GMA950
Graphics Intel 945 Express (integrated)
Operating System Windows XP Pro
Dimensions (WDH) 9.0x4.9x0.9 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 7.0 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 1.9 / 2.8 pounds
Category UMPC

While the Q1 is not as pocket-friendly as smaller UMPCs, such as the OQO model 02 or the WiBrain, we've always liked its combination of lightweight and a big screen. Looking more like an oversized Sony PSP than a laptop, it's meant to be gripped in both hands rather than sitting on a desk or table. However, there is a built-in kickstand if you need to free up your hands or sit back to enjoy a miniature movie. A bright, clear 7-inch wide-screen display dominates the glossy, black plastic chassis and features a native resolution of 1,024x600. Half of the QWERTY keyboard sits on each side of the display, positioned for thumb typing, as on a BlackBerry or Treo. One notable improvement over the previous version of the Q1 is that the plastic keys no longer have the same slick, glossy surface as the rest of the system, so they're easier to get a grip on. Still, slightly rubberized keys would have been welcomed.

Typing on the Q1 Ultra is a chore, but it does become easier with practice--which is how some people describe iPhone typing. Fortunately, there are other input methods, including a touch screen with stylus and a ThinkPad-style mouse pointer. The mouse pointer is located under your left thumb, while the left and right mouse buttons are under your right thumb, along with a four-way input that works like the arrow keys on your keyboard. An onscreen keyboard is also available, called DialKeys, which puts a semicircular split keyboard in the lower-left and lower-right corners of the screen. We appreciate the multiple input methods, but for typing more than a few words, none is particularly easy to use.

Additionally, a few touch-sensitive buttons sit above the screen, next to a Webcam. These include volume up and down buttons and a button for bringing up Samsung's custom onscreen menu, giving you control over screen brightness, the Wi-Fi connection, and other options.

  Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium Average for category [UMPC]
Video VGA-out VGA-out
Audio Headphone jack Headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD or multiformat memory card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive None None

With two USB ports, a headphone jack, an SD card slot, Bluetooth, and a VGA out, most of your connectivity needs should be covered (and in any event, it's a more generous setup than the MacBook Air.

The previous Q1 model we looked at had a woefully underpowered 800MHz Intel A110 CPU--essentially a chip designed for smartphones. It couldn't keep up with even basic computing tasks, and we're pleased to see an upgrade--even if it's only to a 1.3GHz Intel Core Solo. With Intel's Atom and Via's Nano chips starting to show up in Netbooks, using an older chip is a good way to make your product seem dated.

Still, basic Web surfing was fine, and the system could handle video and audio streaming without much stuttering. The Core Solo CPU was generally faster than the VIA C7-M or Intel Celeron M CPUs found in other UMPCs and Netbooks.

One area where we were pleasantly surprised was battery life. The Q1 Ultra Premium ran for 5 hours and 27 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which is excellent for any mobile computer, and especially for a UMPC--a category historically plagued by wimpy batteries.

Samsung includes an industry-standard, one-year, parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, seven days a week, through a toll-free phone line, and the online knowledge base has a specific section for the Q1 line of UMPCs.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HTC Shift
Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium
WiBrain B1

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium
HTC Shift
WiBrain B1

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium
HTC Shift

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium
Windows XP Professional SP3; 1.3GHz Intel Core Solo U1500; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; Toshiba 80GB 4200rpm.

HP 2133 Mini-Note
Windows Vista Business Edition; 1.6GHz VIA C7-M Ultra Low Voltage; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB VIA/SG3 UniChrome Pro II IGP; 120GB Seagate 7,200rpm.

WiBrain B1E
Windows XP Professional, 1.2GHz VIA C7M Ultra Low Voltage; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB VIA/SG3 UniChrome Pro II IGP; 30GB Toshiba 4,200rpm.

HTC Shift
Windows Vista Business Edition; 800MHz Intel A110; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Mobile Intel 945GM/GU Express; 40GB Toshiba 4,200rpm.

Asus Eee PC 900
Windows XP Home Edition SP2; 900MHz Intel Celeron Ultra Low Voltage M353; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 915GMS Express; 12GB Phison Solid State Drive.


Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 5Performance 6Battery 7Support 6