With its glossy black chassis, Samsung’s Q310 will immediately appeal to those with an eye for style. Whether or not you appreciate the red streak along the wrist-rest is another matter. The shiny black plastic is also something of a magnet for fingerprints and it took us just a few minutes to coat the lid in grubby marks; Samsung helpfully includes a cleaning cloth to keep it looking its best.
The Q310 ticks all the right boxes to get Intel’s Centrino 2 badge, with Samsung choosing to fit it with a reasonably powerful processor in the form of a Core 2 Duo P8400. Trotting along nicely at 2GHz and with 4GB of DDR2 RAM backing it up, this processor ensures the Q310 has no problems multi-tasking within Vista; keep in mind that the 32-bit Vista Home Premium it comes with will only recognise a maximum of 3GB RAM.
However, despite housing a discrete graphics card, this laptop isn’t one we’d recommend for those who like to dabble in a bit of gaming. The Nvidia Geforce Go 9200M GS is definitely preferable to an integrated graphics core, but it threw up the white flag when we, rather foolishly, tried to run Crysis. That said, it will cope better with older games: Call of Duty 2 ran smoothly, albeit with low detail and resolution settings.
It might not be a gaming machine, but Samsung has done well when it comes to features on the Q310. Ports include three USB, a 34mm Expresscard slot, and both VGA and HDMI outputs. You also get a multi-format card reader, which is located just under the front lip. Firewire is omitted, though, which will disappoint those with digital camcorders. Networking is catered for by Gigabit Lan and Intel’s latest Wifi Link 5100, the latter supporting 802.11n wireless. You also get Bluetooth thrown in for good measure.
A 250GB hard disk running at 5,400rpm provides plenty of storage, but despite the HDMI port there’s no Blu-ray drive; instead you have to make do with a plain old DVD writer. However, it is a Lightscribe model and is therefore able to carve out images on compatible discs.
The 13.3-inch screen has a resolution of 1,200 x 800 and performs well. Like so many laptops these days, it features a glossy coating which makes movies look great. But, as always, this also means it’s susceptible to nasty reflections caused by nearby lighting.
As far as portability goes, the Q310 measures 320mm wide, 241mm long and 40mm deep, so it shouldn’t have any trouble slipping into your bag. However, at 2.5kg including the power adapter you’ll certainly know it’s there. We managed almost three hours’ intensive use before the six-cell, 5,200mAh battery cried out for the mains, which isn’t at all bad. When left sitting idle, but with the screen permanently on, it powered along for nearly five and a half hours. With general usage, you can expect to get around four hours’ use out of a single charge.
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