The 15.6-inch Samsung Q530 is essentially the big brother of the impressive 13.3-inch Q330. This larger laptop retains the slick styling of its £600 sibling but, at around £750, offers considerably more screen real estate.
The Q530 is a very handsome machine. The chassis may be made entirely of plastic, but Samsung has finished it with a brushed-aluminium effect that gives it a much more high-end look. The rounded corners look beautiful and the tapered edges make it look even slimmer than its 33mm measurement would suggest. The chassis also feel very robust and there's a reassuringly small amount of flex in the lid.
One of the laptop's key design features is its black isolated keyboard, which contrasts beautifully with the silver finish on the keyboard surround. Each key is punched through the chassis and this helps make the keyboard feel very robust. There's very little flex even when you apply a fair degree of pressure. There's also a generous amount of space between the individual keys and this, combined with their large size, means you can tap away at speed without constantly hitting the wrong keys accidentally. The keyboard's layout is great too and there's even room for a numerical keypad on the right-hand side.
The Q530 also has a generously sized trackpad that's slightly recessed into the keyboard's wrist west. It's finished with a glossy coating, but, thankfully, doesn't feel as sticky as some others we've used that have a similar finish. The large, chunky trackpad buttons are also excellent.
For a 15.6-inch display, the screen's resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is slightly under par -- many higher-end netbooks manage to pack in a similar number of pixels. But the LED backlight means it's very bright, and this, combined with its glossy finish, makes colours look exceptionally strong and vibrant. It also has good viewing angles on both the horizontal and vertical axis.
The laptop's connectivity options are rather basic, but most of the key bases are covered. There are three USB ports, one of which is enabled for 'sleep and charge', so you can charge devices like MP3 players and phones even when the laptop is switched off. You also get VGA and HDMI ports for connecting it to an external display or HD Ready TV. As well as 802.11n Wi-Fi, Samsung has added support for Bluetooth 3.0, which is able to perform much faster data transfers than the older 2.1 specification.
Chomp through chores
As with most laptops aimed primarily at consumers, this model runs the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 Home Premium, and the generous 4GB of RAM gives the operating system ample leg room to strut its stuff.
The powerhouse driving all this is a dual-core, 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M processor. This chip is certainly no slouch and helped the system rack up an impressive score of 6,557 in the PCMark05 benchmark test. This indicates that it'll have no problem chomping through more demanding chores, such as heavy multitasking.
Samsung hasn't forgotten about gaming performance either. The Q530 has an Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics chip that has 512MB of dedicated memory. It performed rather well in 3DMark06, racking up a score of 7,633. That means you should have no problem running the latest games, as long as you keep the detail turned down slightly.
As the Q530 is a larger laptop, you may not plan on taking it on the road often. Nevertheless, its battery life isn't too bad. In the Battery Eater test, the laptop managed to keep running for 1 hour and 10 minutes, which is a fairly respectable time for a 15.6-inch model.
Samsung has done a good job on the storage front too, equipping the machine with a large, 500GB hard drive. There's also a DVD writer on-board and an SD card reader perched on the front lip.
The Q530's on-board speakers are weedy, though. They aren't capable of producing much bass, so, if you want to use the laptop for listening to music, we'd advise you to invest in a decent set of headphones.
There's plenty to like about the Samsung Q530. It has a sexy design, well-balanced specification and decent battery life. Overall, though, it's not quite as an impressive as the smaller Q330.
Edited by Charles Kloet