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Samsung has a good track record where portable laptops are concerned. You can track this all the way back to the Q35 (one of which still knocks around the TrustedReviews offices even now), its successor, the Q45, as well as last year's two efforts the Q210 and Q310. All excellent laptops and most significantly they were affordable, something that can't often be said of machines below the 2.0kg mark. Curiously, the advent of the netbook might have made this reputation less prestigious, but Samsung hasn't missed the boat there either - its excellent NC10 set the benchmark for netbooks as far as we're concerned.
However, while many seem preoccupied with netbooks, nothing can beat a proper notebook PC as far as power to weight ratio is concerned and the Q320 is Samsung's latest effort. Based, as seems the fashion these days, on a 16:9 ratio display (13.4in in this instance) it continues Samsung's reputation for affordability, cramming a comprehensive specification into its £650 price point of our review model, the NP-Q320-AS02UK.
For this money you get an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, which runs at 2.0GHz, has 2MB L2 Cache and runs on an 800MHz front-side bus. This isn't a Centrino 2 processor, so isn't the latest of Intel's mobile offerings, but it should offer enough processing punch for most needs. This is backed by 3GB DDR2 RAM and a 320GB hard drive, so the Q320 isn't lacking for system memory or physical storage, either.
Unlike many notebooks in this form-factor you also get discrete graphics courtesy of an nVidia G105M with 256MB dedicated memory. Like the CPU this is no speed demon, but it offers just enough to run older games fairly comfortably, as proved by the solid 34.1 frames per second produced in Trackmania Nations with detail set to Medium. In addition to all this you get both Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0, as well as Gigabit Ethernet for wired networking. Throw in a few other sundries such as a 1.3-megapixel webcam and you've got a system that offers all the features a typical user might need.
This includes decent connectivity. There are three USB ports in total, one of which also doubles as an eSATA port and another that remains powered when the machine is turned off - something that's ideal for charging mobile phones and the like. You get both HDMI and VGA video outputs, headphone (line-out) and microphone (line-in) jacks for audio, while a 34mm ExpressCard slot adds support for additional peripherals. A 3-in-1 memory card reader on the front supports SD, SDHC and MMC formats. Handily, all these ports are labelled on the main body of the machine. In a new departure for Samsung, the Q320 also features a slot-loading 8x DVD-Rewriter drive, though it's worth remembering it doesn't support (albeit rare) non-standard size disks.
There's little in the way of accessories in the box, with just a cleaning cloth and a software/driver CD supplied. No real attempt has been made to condense the power adapter, either. Measuring 123 x 29mm it weighs 270g alone, but combined with the attached wire and mains plug connection, you're looking at an extra 570g in your bag.