Hardware, design and build: aluminium coloured but with the taste of plastic
The Q330 is well finished and well-built. If you were expecting an aluminium machine however you're going to be disappointed. The shell is entirely in plastic. Although black and glossy, its hood doesn't pick up finger marks too much. The inside is entirely in matte grey plastic.
The keyboard, with separated keys, takes up a little over 29 cm of the total 33 cm wide shell. Keying is nice and quiet. The keys are well-proportioned and those who touch type shouldn't have any problems here. Although the wrist rest coating won't transport you to other worlds, it is big enough for decent comfort. Those who do a lot of text work will appreciate it.
The multi-touch touchpad didn't make such a good impression however. Although the glide is nice and precise, it takes up less than a quarter of the length of the shell. With all the available space, it wouldn't have been too much to ask to extend it a few centimetres. You would then have been able to guide the cursor across the screen without having to start your glide again several times or lose precision.
The webcam gives pretty good results with acceptable fluidity for occasional use. Note however the weak contrast and a tendency towards overexposure of light areas of the image.
Connectivity covers all the bases. On the left, there's a power plug, the VGA and HDMI outs as well as a USB 2.0 port, an RJ45 and the headphones and mic sockets. On the right there's the DVD burner and two USB 2.0 connectors. More unusually, the SD card reader isn't on one of the sides but at the front, under the touchpad.
The Q330 is fairly quiet and makes no sound at all when processing office documents. When you ask it for a bit more, the fan does become audible but this is pretty much lost under the sound of the film you're watching or game you're playing.
Underneath, a panel gives access to the RAM and the HDD. They can therefore be replaced without too much difficulty.
Power supply, VGA, RJ45, HDMI, USB 2.0 port, headphones and mic socket
Processor power: perfect all-rounderThis isn't the first laptop we've seen equipped with the Intel i3-350M processor. The other was the Samsung R540. According to our tests, the Q330 scores 96 on our index, while the reference machine, the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400) scores 100. Multitasking with various office documents is therefore no problem at all. You'll also be able to process photos and video. Note however that if this type of use constitutes a major part of your activity, you shouldn't hesitate to go for a more powerful processor as heavy processing will ask for a fair amount of patience here.
Whether with its built-in chipset or with the GeForce 310M, this 13.3-inch decodes 1080p video without any difficulty. Note that the Q330 is equipped with Optimus technology. This detects if use of the graphics card is required. If the lower energy Intel GMA HD is sufficient, then it takes any given task on. This maximises battery life for you.
Windows 7 Family Premium edition (64-bit) takes 39 seconds to boot. Once you get to the desktop, you need to wait another 10 seconds before you can really start working. It turns off in under twelve seconds.
Big concessions in gamingIn spite of its dedicated graphics card, the Q330 won't satisfy all gamers. Samsung has gone for the NVIDIA GeForce 310M here. This entry-level model can't handle recent titles. If you're happy to do your gaming with titles such as Half Life 2 or Team Fortress 2 however, you'll be able to enjoy certain titles at limited graphics settings; go for between low and medium for maximum fluidity.
Audio: lack of powerThe headphones out is very clean but desperately lacks power. No chance of damaging your ears here. The speakers, positioned under the keyboard, don't do much better, with very low maximum volume and quite some deformation of sound.
Easily transportable, with decent battery life.In our battery life test (video playback, Wi-Fi deactivated, headphones plugged in and brightness at 100 cd/m²) the Q330 gave 3h20, which is almost an hour more than the previous model, the Q320. This is fine for an ultra-portable, but is a good bit down on the 13.3-inch MacBook Air.
With battery, the Q330 weighs in at 2 Kg. The 13.3-inch MacBook Air weighs just 1.3 Kg for the same screen size. While you won't mind carrying the Samsung around in a rucksack for a few hours, it does get a bit heavy at the end of a long day. The charger is light in proportion however. The Q330 is not particularly slim - 32 mm - but it'll slide into your rucksack easily.
- Comfortable keyboard
- Sober design and matte surfaces on the inside
- Good CPU performance
- Good battery life
- Glossy low contrast panel
- Small touchpad
- Inaccurate colours
The Q330 offers decent performance across a full range of tasks. If, however, portability and battery life are your main priorities, you may well prefer the MacBook Air 13.3-inch.