Samsung has gone with a GlobeTrotter HSDPA module from Option, which is a wise choice. Option has been making 3G data cards for the likes of Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange for some time now, and I’ve found them to be first rate bits of hardware. In fact Orange went with a different manufacturer for its first 3G data card, but learned from that mistake and switched to Option.
Getting the GlobeTrotter module working is an absolute breeze – I simply inserted my Vodafone data SIM, selected the Vodafone UK profile and hit the connect button. Data rates appear to be every bit as good as any of the HSDPA data cards available, so you should have no problem getting the base 1.8Mbit/sec throughput. I’ve used the Q40 in the TrustedReviews offices in Ascot, on the train between the office and London and in and around the West End of London – in all locations I managed to get a strong signal and good download speeds, although this is obviously a reflection of Vodafone’s coverage as well as the Q40 and Option module.
The Option HSDPA module also has a Wi-Fi adapter built into it, which means that the Q40 is actually equipped with two Wi-Fi cards. Since this is a Centrino branded notebook, there’s also an Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wi-Fi card installed, so you’ll definitely have no problem connecting to a wireless network with this machine. There’s also a Broadcom Bluetooth 2.0 module thrown in, which means you’ll be able to connect up to your mobile phone, or suitable equipped digital camera, or even use a wireless headset for some video conferencing.
Wired connectivity is also very well catered for with a Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet adapter ensuring lightning fast network speeds, assuming you have a Gigabit switch and CAT5e cabling to go with it. For the really low-tech users, there’s also a 56k modem in evidence, just in case you’re feeling nostalgic about the bad old days of dial-up.
Driving the Q40 is an Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Votage U1400 chip, running at 1.2GHz. This means that the clock is higher than the dual-core ULV CPU seen in the Sony TZ1M and the LV dual-core processor seen in the Asus U1F – both of those chips had core clocks of 1.06GHz. In reality this means that the Q40 should be a faster machine when running single threaded applications, but its direct competitors would pull ahead when running multi-threaded apps, or if the user embarked on some serious multi-tasking. Honestly, I can’t see too many ultra-portable notebook users engaging in masses of multi-tasking, but as more and more applications become dual threaded, the benefits of a dual-core CPU will increase.
There’s 1.25GB of system memory installed, which seems like an odd amount at first glance. What this actually means is that the Q40 shares similar architecture to the Q35, which has 256MB of memory hard wired to the motherboard, allowing a maximum of 1.25GB to be installed. Although 1.25GB is adequate for the Q40 when running Windows XP, it may become an issue if you want to upgrade to Vista. That said, with both the Sony TZ1MN and the Asus U1F shipping with 1GB of memory, the Q40 will offer a slight advantage in the RAM department.