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Back in January 2005 I reviewed the Samsung Q30 ultra-portable notebook and was very impressed. This was a machine that weighed only 1.1kg, had a widescreen display and full Intel Centrino branding. In fact, with the exception of the iconic Sony VAIO X505, the Q30 was probably the most impressive ultra-portable notebook available at the time.
Now I’m looking at the direct descendant of the Q30, the originally named Q40. At first glance, this Q40 looks exactly the same as the Q30 from over two years ago, but Samsung has not been resting on its laurels. First up, I should mention that this is an ultra-portable notebook in the true sense of the word, which means that there is no integrated optical drive. Now, back when I reviewed the Q30 it was par for the course for an ultra-portable to need an external optical drive, but these days, with the likes of Sony’s TX and more recent TZ series’ it’s clear that you can have a very thin and light notebook, without having to leave an optical drive out.
That said, as someone who uses a notebook on the move regularly, I can testify that the times I need an optical drive while out and about are minimal at best, so I wouldn’t base my ultra-portable purchasing decision on whether a notebook had a built-in DVD drive or not. In fact, it was only a few months ago that I reviewed the Asus U1F ultra-portable, which didn’t have a built-in optical drive, and that was still a very good notebook for the size and weight conscious consumer.
What did surprise me when I reviewed the Q30 though, was the absence of a PC Card slot, which meant that I couldn’t make use of my 3G data card – a device that has proved invaluable to me since I acquired one in mid-2004. Despite the fact that the Q40 also doesn’t sport a PC Card slot, or even the newer Express Card slot, it’s not a problem this time around. Because squeezed inside this incredibly svelte chassis is an HSDPA module, which means that I can simply slide my data SIM into the Q40 and get online anywhere and anytime!
Samsung should be congratulated not only for managing to find the space for an HSDPA module in a machine this small, but also for making the SIM slot easily accessible. There’s a rubber flap in the base of the notebook, behind which hides the SIM slot – most other notebooks with integrated HSDPA hide the SIM slot behind the battery, which means removing the battery in order to gain access to the slot. That said, Samsung still warns that the SIM should only be inserted or removed when the machine is powered off, but it’s still a good design.