Samsung's Q-series of laptops is something of a perennial classic. While rarely the most glamorous or sophisticated, they've always balanced portability and affordability extremely well. Of course there's more choice in affordable and portable laptops these days, but the Q330 continues the grand tradition of its forbears.
Unlike the likes of the Asus UL30A, the Q330 uses a full-power Intel Core i3 processor: one that has two cores running at 2.26GHz, in fact. This gives it a significant edge in general performance, though its Intel HD Graphics means it's no better a gaming machine. Peeking closer under the hood reveals 3GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive, which is perfectly sufficient considering the £600 asking price.
Interestingly, like the Samsung Galaxy S, the Q330 has Bluetooth 3.0 - a nice, future-proofing addition - in addition to Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. Of course, and this may sound like a trivial thing, the Q330 also an 8x DVD Re-writer drive - something not found in many low-voltage laptops, where the emphasis is on slimness at all costs.
Fundamentally, then, the Q330 is just a normal laptop made smaller and lighter: 1.96kg to be precise. This is nice weight for a laptop, as is the 13-inch form-factor a good size for slinging in a bag to and from lectures or the office. In this respect the Q330 has more in common with the Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro 13-inch, though it's considerably cheaper than either.
Naturally this more affordable price comes at the cost of the materials used, but the Q330 is no ugly ducking. As is typical of Samsung it's kept things as simple as possible, matching a near-black lid with matt silver on the inside to good effect. We particularly like the semi-gloss finish of the lid, which has all the visual qualities of a glossy one but with the fraction of the ugly smudges and fingerprints. Excluding the slight protrusion for the battery at the back, the Q330 is also pleasingly slim.
Any highly portable laptop is likely to receive a little rough and tumble, so build quality is an important consideration. Samsung's use of more durable materials, namely matt plastics instead of the easily scratched glossy finishes so often seen, certainly helps here. More to the point, the general construction of Q330 is excellent, with no creaking or poorly fitted panels to be found. It also runs coolly and quietly, something that's doubly important when working on the move.