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Samsung has long been the purveyor of excellent portable laptops. Its Q35 and latterly the Q45 were great little machines and were often priced very competitively as well. More recently, however, the Q45 was starting to show its age since, short of a new lick of paint, it hadn't seen a meaningful chassis overhaul since the original Q35 that we reviewed all the way back in June 2006. It's all change now, though, as the Q45 makes way for the Q210 and Santa Rosa for Montevina, Intel's new mobile platform that's known to you as Centrino 2.
Centrino 2 brings with it a completely new chipset with improved integrated graphics, better power management and a new range of processors. We'll get into the details of this new platform a little later, but first let's take a closer look at the shiny veneer that houses it all.
On the outside its classic Samsung: glossy and black. This introduces all the usual issues such as fingerprints and scratches but, as with the R410, the Q210 is more durable than previous machines thanks to a new coating. This doesn't make it impenetrable, this is no ToughBook, but the glossy finish on the Q210 is appreciably more durable than on previous models.
Inside things have changed quite a bit and not necessarily for the better. Carrying over its 'touch of colour' theme from TVs and monitors, the Q210 features its own deep red 'touch of colour' along the front edge. Samsung has also decided to extend the use of glossy black plastic inside and around the keyboard, too. Unfortunately, to our eyes at least, this effect isn't anywhere as attractive on the Q210 as it is on the TVs. It's not ugly per se, just underwhelming and less subtle than the rose tinted bezels of the TVs.
Moreover, knowing that glossy black finishes spoil easily, it's not the best thing to have around the one part of the notebook you're constantly touching. Even after relatively light usage the Q210 begins to look rather grubby and greasy and makes regular use of the provided cloth a necessity. Overall, the jury is very much out on both the touch of colour and glossy internal finish. Some will like it, but we're not so convinced.
Moving onto more subtle differences, the Q210 is also marginally wider and deeper than the Q45 it replaces. This is largely because the battery now sits flush with the system rather than protruding from the rear, as it did on the Q45. This arrangement is definitely preferable, so the extra size is perfectly acceptable.
Thankfully, this extra size hasn't had too noticeable an effect on the overall weight of the Q210. Weighing just 1.95kg the Q210 isn't the lightest notebook of its type, but less than two kilos is the ideal target for a machine of this size and anyone used to larger 15.4 or 14.1in machines will notice the difference straightaway.