Unfortunately, I can’t praise the Q45’s keyboard as wholeheartedly. It’s not particularly bad, but neither is it a huge step up from HP’s 2133 Mini-Note PC. And MSI’s example in its 12.1in PR210 Notebook is much better, with more travel and a more defined response. The MSI also manages to fit the Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys along the side like with most 15.4in laptops, rather than having PgUp and PgDn double as Home and End as on the Q45. What’s most annoying is that MSI has squeezed this larger and more comfortable keyboard in a chassis that is exactly as wide.
Both manufacturers still insist on the faux-pas of having the Fn key in the place where Ctrl is supposed to be, but I’ve resigned myself to this irregularity, since some people even prefer it. The one good thing about the Q45’s mediocre response and travel is that the careful typist can be virtually silent, always handy when working beside your sleeping partner or other such scenarios.
The keyboard is not the only mildly disappointing aspect of the Q45. Though still attractive, the chassis might have been fairly cutting edge when it was first used on the Samsung Q35, but two years on, it’s more than showing its age. Two USB ports (one of which is annoyingly located at the rear), for example, are less than even the Asus Eee PC 901! And while modern ultra-portables are starting to appear with some form of digital video out (usually HDMI), the Q45 still only offers VGA. Another legacy of the outdated chassis is a PC Card Slot, rather than the newer ExpressCard.
Apart from this there is a Card Reader (MS+pro, SD, MMC+high speed and xD), a four-pin IEEE 1394 (though I would have preferred a third USB port), and of course headphone and mic sockets, located at the notebook’s front. A nice touch which we’re coming across ever more often is that the headphone jack doubles as S/PDIF, meaning you can hook this laptop up to a quality sound system when you get home after a hard day of work.
Annoyingly, the Q45 puts out most of its heat on its right side, which can be very bothersome if you are using a mouse righthanded (though it’s great on a frosty day). To be fair, it also means the DVD writer is on the left-hand side where most prefer it, and since it’s of the LightScribe variety, you can burn professional-looking labels onto compatible media.
Overall, the chassis is not as sleek or as slim as it could be either. But this is not entirely due to dated design; the notebook has several protruding legs that add thickness but at least should ensure good air-flow underneath the beastie, keeping its vital innards nice and cool. As on previous models, the six-cell battery extends out the back of the chassis.
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