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Storage comes in the form of a 60GB hard disk, which is somewhat meagre by today’s standards. However, I’m a firm believer that an ultra-portable notebook shouldn’t need masses of storage and I’d be more than happy to have a machine like this equipped with a 32GB solid state disk instead – an option that exists in Korea, but not over here in the UK. That said, Samsung has promised to equip me with an SSD for this notebook so that I can get an idea of how much benefit the solid state storage offers.
Despite the fact that the Q40 looks, to all intents and purposes, exactly like the Q30, the design hasn’t dated over the past two years. As ultra-portable notebooks go, the Q40 looks sleek and stylishly uncluttered. This review sample is finished in matt silver, although a version with a glossy red lid is also available. The lines are smooth and the edges curved, making me realise that the Q30 was pretty cutting edge at the time.
Opening the lid reveals a 12.1in widescreen display with a native resolution of 1,280 x 768. That’s a pretty decent amount of desktop real estate, considering that many 15.4in notebooks have the same resolution. Of course it’s worth remembering that the Sony TZ1MN sports a 1,366 x 768 resolution on an 11.1in screen. The display has a high contrast glossy coating, which makes the colours look particularly vibrant and also stops the image washing out in bright sunlight. Whether you like glossy screens on notebooks is a matter of personal taste, but I certainly do, and with most laptops now shipping with this type of display, you’re going to have to get used to them even if you’re not a fan.
Often with an ultra-portable notebook, the keyboard will suffer in order to meet size or weight requirements, but that’s not the case with the Q40. The keyboard is a superb example – in fact it’s better than many examples I’ve seen on far larger machines. Each key is surprisingly large considering the limited chassis space, making it easy to type at speed from the get go. There’s also a decent amount of travel, with a very solid break at the end of each keystroke, again aiding anyone who hammers out long documents, like myself. Caps Lock, Shift, Ctrl, Return and Backspace keys are all large, while the cursor keys are also dropped slightly lower than the bottom row for easy access. If there’s one complaint it’s that the Ctrl key isn’t located at the bottom left of the layout as it should be – Samsung has made the mistake of positioning the Fn key there instead, which could frustrate anyone who uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts.
The touchpad below the Spacebar has a slightly rough texture to it but still allows for very smooth and accurate pointer manipulation. The far right side of the touchpad can be used for scrolling vertically through documents and web pages, while the bottom edge can be used for scrolling horizontally. There’s no indication of either function on the touchpad itself, but Samsung isn’t the only manufacturer that neglects to tell the user about this functionality. The two buttons below the touchpad have a solid feel to them and respond with a loud, reassuring click when pressed.