Last year I reviewed the Sony VAIO X505 notebook and was stunned at just how wafer thin and light it was. Although I've looked at a number of ultra-portable notebooks since then, I've yet to see anything as slim, light or sexy as the Sony - until now. There are few technology products that I'd describe as being beautiful, but the Samsung Q30 definitely falls into that category.
OK, so the Q30 isn't quite as light as the Sony X505, weighing 1.1kg as opposed to 822g, but the Samsung can hardly be described as heavy. And with dimensions of only 287 x 197 x 24mm (WxDxH) it's small enough to be slipped into almost any bag unobtrusively. But despite the tiny dimensions of the Q30, it is a well featured little machine. In fact, even though the Sony X505 is slightly lighter, you would have to carry some extra bits and pieces with you to match the functionality of this little Samsung. The Sony needed a dongle for both D-SUB and Ethernet ports, while there was also no integrated WiFi adapter, and although a PC Card WiFi adapter came with the X505 as standard, it was another thing that you needed to carry with you. The memory card reader was also a PC Card, so this would need to be carried separately as well - with the Samsung Q30, all this functionality is built-into the chassis.
Like so many notebooks these days, the Q30 is finished in matt silver, but the colour really suits the slim form factor. There's a single Samsung logo in the centre of the lid - it's thankfully correctly orientated so that it's the right way up when the lid is open. The top edge of the lid also sports the curious phrase "DIGITall FREEDOM". Open up the lid and you're greeted with a surprisingly large and well laid out keyboard. The keys are a good size and have a decent amount of travel, along with a solid break that springs your finger back up for the next key strike. The Shift, Caps Lock, Return and Backspace keys are all large, and even though the Fn key is in the bottem left where the Ctrl key should be, Samsung has made the Ctrl key larger, so it's still pretty easy to get to.
The screen is stunning considering the size of the Q30. The 12.1in TFT display is a widescreen panel with a resolution of 1,280 x 768, giving you an impressive amount of desktop real estate. Samsung has made the screen even more special by using what it calls "Super Bright". This is a coating similar to the X-Black coating pioneered by Sony a while back, and it makes the screen much brighter with extremely vivid colours. The down side is increased reflectivity from the screen, but I'm quite happy to live with this, considering how much better the image looks overall. Now, although I'm a fan of this type of screen technology in general, the display on the Q30 is exceptionally good. It's a shame that the Q30 isn't up to the job of playing games, because they'd look great on this display, although if you watch the odd movie you'll still make the most of it.