Samsung – NP Q210 review

Intel's new Centrino 2 technology in action
Photo of Samsung – NP Q210
£575 + VAT

Samsung’s latest 12.1-inch notebook, the NP-Q210 (NP-Q210-AS02UK), is also the first true Centrino 2 model we have seen. Centrino 2 (codename Montevina) is Intel’s delayed evolution of the original Centrino technology, featuring a new line-up of processors, a new chipset with better integrated graphics, better and faster WiFi handling and improved power management.

For such a smallish notebook – 2.25kg with power adaptor – the Q210 causes quite a debate and it’s all to do with what you find on opening the lid. From the outside the Q210 looks like any other Samsung notebook with its classy gloss black finish, but on opening the lid you are confronted by a red flash along the front edge of the chassis, with the rest finished in black.

While this ‘touch of red’ works really well on Samsung’s monitor and TV range, the use of it on a notebook really does divide people. Samsung provides a cleaning cloth for the Q210 and believe me you’ll be using it, as the glossy finish is a magnet for finger marks. But having said all that, the finish itself, like the rest of this laptop, indicates a high degree of build quality and attention to detail.

At the heart of the Q210 is one of the CPUs that make up the new Centrino 2 platform, the Core 2 Duo T8400. The T8400 comes with a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of just 25W which should help in lowering power consumption to help with the battery life. It has a clock speed of 2.26GHz, a 1,066MHz FSB and 3MB of L2 cache. Backing up the CPU is the new Intel PM45 chipset (the mobile version of the P45 desktop chip) and 3GB of PC2-5300, 667MHz, DDR2 memory.

Despite its small size, the new technology gives the Q210 plenty of grunt to do all the normal everyday stuff without too many problems, proof of which is provided by its PCMark05 and PCMarkVantage scores of 5,480 and 3,793 respectively.

However, one of the everyday things you won’t be doing with the Q210 is any form of serious gaming, but then again that’s not what the Q210 is all about. Powering the graphics is an Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS with 256MB of dedicated GDDR2 memory, and if you need proof of its not-for-gaming status then the World in Conflict score of just 6fps should convince you.

The games performance may be poor but the screen is anything but. The 12.1-inch display has a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels and, although it comes with a glossy, hi-contrast coating, it doesn’t reflect office lighting as badly as some screens, and text always appears crisp and sharp.

As with the rest of the notebook the keyboard has a high build quality about it; there’s no discernable flex to the key-bed, which for some strange reason makes for an odd key response when you type, but you soon get used to it. The trackpad is responsive without overdoing the sensitivity, but although it has both horizontal and vertical scrolling, only the latter is labelled.

Staying on that theme, all the ports are labelled on top edge of the chassis, with the labels actually positioned above the appropriate port, which makes a nice change from some of the port labelling we’ve seen.

Built into the right-hand side of the chassis is an 8x Lightscribe DVD burner together with two USB ports, a 34mm Express Card slot and an SD Flash card reader, while the left-hand side holds the VGA and HDMI ports, a third USB port and two audio ports.

For storage Samsung has equipped the Q210 with a 320GB, 5,400rpm SATA drive which should be more than adequate for everyday usage and is fast enough to make light work of large file transfers. The Q210 is well equipped to keep you in touch with the home or office, too. As well as the 802.11n WiFi (also part of Centrino 2), it has Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR and a 56kbps modem should all else fail.

When it comes to battery life, the Q210 offers some pretty decent results with its six-cell, 5,200mAh battery. Using MobileMark 2007 it lasted for a shade over three and a half hours in the Productivity test while the DVD test yielded a life of just over two and a half hours.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 01932 455 000

Samsung's replacement for the popular Q45, the Q210 shows off Intel's new techology nicely and is a well equipped and performing notebook. And who knows, you just may get to like the 'touch of red'.