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Samsung Q70 review: Samsung Q70

The Q70 one may not be the thinnest or lightest ultra-portable laptop Samsung has produced, but it uses the latest Intel Centrino technology, codenamed Santa Rosa, and is fully Vista-capable

Patrick Wignall

See full bio
4 min read

Sony is perhaps the name that springs to mind when you think of stylish ultra-portable laptops, but Samsung has also knocked out plenty of elegant machines in this category -- we loved the Q35.

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7.5

Samsung Q70

The Good

Impressive glossy screen; decent range of features.

The Bad

Dull styling; rather heavy.

The Bottom Line

The Q70 has plenty of grunt under the hood and a decent range of features. However, it's all wrapped up in a dull-looking and slightly too heavy and bulky chassis. Ultra-portables are all about sex appeal and this machine just hasn't got the x-factor to make it a real object of desire

This one may not be the thinnest or lightest Samsung has produced, but it uses the latest Intel Centrino technology, codenamed Santa Rosa, and is fully Vista-capable, so you don't miss out on the new operating system's flashy graphical flourishes. The machine will be available from June onwards and will be priced at around £900.

Design
In the past, Samsung has produced some of the prettiest ultra-portables we've seen, but unfortunately this model isn't one that's destined for the catwalk. Sure, the glossy black veneer on the lid looks attractive, but open it up and you're met with a grey metallic finish that's as dull as reruns of The Bill. The underside also looks lumpy.

Size-wise, the machine slots in at the chunkier end of the ultra-portable scale. Its footprint is slightly larger than an A4 sheet of paper, it's not particularly thin and it weights in at the 2kg mark with the large six-cell battery attached.


The USB, VGA and Ethernet ports are all cunningly concealed under a flap on the right-hand side

To be fair, many of its rivals slim themselves down by jettisoning ports and optical drives, or at least banishing them to the docking bay, whereas the Q70 keeps all this gubbins onboard. You get a DVD-rewriter, twin USB ports, a mini-FireWire socket and a full-size VGA port.

Features
The Q70 is loaded with Windows Vista Home Premium, so you get access to all the new Vista features including the handy Windows Media Center software. The graphics chip can handle the full Vista Aero interface, so you also get to use the transparency effects and the 'impress your friends' Windows 3D application switcher.

It has to be said that Vista's new eye candy really does look great on the excellent 13.3-inch display. The screen has a sharp resolution of 1,280x800 pixels and uses the Superbright coating to make colours really leap from the display. That said, it is rather more reflective that a traditional matte finish.

Samsung has resisted the temptation to adorn the laptop with a plethora of quick-launch buttons or media keys. As a result, the main keyboard has room to stretch itself out across practically the whole width of the machine. This helps it feel a little less cramped than you would expect on such a small laptop.

There is one quick-launch button provided, which is used to fire up Samsung's AVstation media playback software. Unlike the quick-start media players on some laptops, this one seems to require the PC to boot normally into Windows, so there is little point in using it when the Windows Media Center software does a much better job of playing back your music and videos. The 160GB hard drive offers a decent amount of storage, but if you're a fan of collecting movies you may want to invest in an external hard drive.

As with all laptops these days, the Q70 features Wi-Fi built-in. Being a next-generation Centrino Duo laptop, it uses an 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor, which lets you connect to compatible networks at a theoretical maximum of 300Mbps. It's also kitted out with Bluetooth 2.0, which will come in handy if you want to connect it wirelessly to a mobile phone for a little 3G Web surfing.


Performance
Unfortunately the Q70 refused to run our PCMark05 benchmark software. However, it uses the latest Intel Centrino technology, previously codenamed Santa Rosa, so we would expect its performance to be impressive -- more so than equivalent Centrino laptops released pre-March 2007.

Certainly the laptop felt speedy for day-to-day tasks in Windows Vista, which is not really surprising as the Intel T7300 processor runs at a healthy 2GHz and is backed up with 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately it doesn't run to its full potential as the memory has a frequency of 667MHz. Had 800MHz memory been fitted, we'd expect the performance to be even higher.

As we've already seen, the Nvidia 8400M GS graphics chip fully supports the transparency and 3D effects in Windows. In our 3D Mark test it managed to claw its way to a score of 1,036, which is not too bad for an ultra-portable. It means you'll be able to play the latest games, as long as you turn most of the graphics settings down to their lower levels.

The Q70 is supplied with a large six-cell battery that sticks out the back by about 25mm. It adds considerably to the weight, but even so, it didn't help the machine to a particularly good score in our test. The Q70 managed to keep puffing away under its own steam for 1 hour and 29 minutes, which is a fairly average performance.

Conclusion
This is decent enough laptop. It's got plenty of grunt under the bonnet, a sensible amount of storage space and a good all-round list of features. As a result it runs Windows Vista without breaking a sweat.

The problem remains, however, that there's just nothing really here that stands out and screams 'buy me' at you. In part, this is because of the lacklustre styling, but it's also because it's heavier and thicker than we've grown accustomed to in ultraportable machines.

Edited by Jason Jenkins and Rory Reid
Additional editing by Nick Hide

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