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Samsung Q30 Silver 1100

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      20.05.2009 10:53
      Very helpful



      Small and sexy laptop which isn't quite a netbook

      This was my husband's idea, a very expensive purchase which really wasn't necessary at the time, but ended up becoming the best used laptop we had in the family.

      He bought it in 2006, paying just over £1,200 for it - to take on a holiday we booked for that summer in Thailand. At the time he was finishing a Masters degree through an American university online and was insistent he had to be online for most of the holiday and having sampled the "delights" of internet cafes on our trip to Thailand the year before, he wasn't keen to use them.

      We already owned a Samsung laptop - an X10 which was wafer thin but still a bit on the heavy side to carry about much - but my husband had been very impressed with it, despite it taking him a year to work out how to get the wireless function to work. Yes, you read that right - a whole year to discover there was a button to press to activate the wifi adaptor! This is what happens when you discard instruction manuals from the off...

      Anyway, seduced by the style the Samsung machines had, and by the fact the Q30 was small, slim, lightweight and ultimately portable, my husband went ahead and bought it.

      The price didn't include an external CD/DVD drive - although my husband always referred to this as "the little laptop", it is for all intents and purposes a netbook - a term we were unfamiliar with just three years ago. My husband being forever the completist, paid another couple of hundred quid for one.

      Of course you can get far smaller machines than this now. The screen is 12.1" and the weight is a pretty lightweight 1.1 kilos but the size makes the keyboard functional - I find much smaller harder to touch type on. The dimensions are a pretty neat 28.8 cm x 19.6 cm x 2.4 cm.

      The Q30 runs on Windows XP Professional which was preinstalled. It isn't the fastest machine to use however, especially by today's standard of super fast machines. It has a paltry 512 MB of RAM and runs on an Intel Pentium M Processor 1.10 Ghz. The hard drive is 40 GB and there are two USB slots.

      All this seems pretty appalling today when you can pick up small netbooks that run on Linux for under £150 in Tesco with a similar spec, but none of these netbooks are anything like as sleek as the Q30 and lack some of the better features.

      This little beauty has never failed to pick up a wireless network and connects a treat using the integral Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG WiFi adapter.

      There is also a built in memory card reader which can cope with SD, MMC and MemoryStick. This proved invaluable on holidays when we worried about losing cameras and priceless photos as we could back them up immediately.

      The external CD/DVD drive plugs in via the Firewire hub and this powers it too. You can write CDs using this, but not DVD. Watching a DVD is fine on this machine but obviously you have to consider the additional space the external drive takes up.

      I won't deny the Q30 is slow to boot up however - it can easily take a full five minutes for the internet to be up and running on my wireless network at home - and it can get a bit overloaded if I am editing photos and grind to a halt.

      The biggest problem with this laptop has been the screen however. After my husband died, I noticed that the screen was pixellated. Images on websites which had previously been crystal clear on the 1280 x 768 pixels TFT screen had become anything but. As I only used this machine when I was traveling a couple of times a year or if my sister came to stay, I could live with this but I did find it annoying.

      I was finally forced into action a couple of months ago when we were in London. My daughter, unbeknownst to me, decided to get the laptop down from a high shelf in our hotel room, and managed to damage the screen by dropping it. The screen was cracked and I had tell-tale black "fingerprints" from the broken pixels on the screen.

      I was left in a quandary about what to do with this machine. I knew it was expensive and also knew I could buy a fairly decent netbook for around £300 to replace the Q30, but this machine was my husband's and I was reluctant to discard it. It had been on many family holidays with us and felt like a part of the family.

      So I phoned around to get some quotes for a replacement screen and managed to find someone who was able to fix it, after some minor difficulties in locating the correct screen, for £150, restoring the Q30 to her original glory.

      So the Q30 lives on and I hope will see another three years of family service as our "little laptop". Despite the fact she is slow, she does the job of portable netbook well and has all the features I need when I am on the go.

      Battery life is supposedly 3 hours but I would say it is closer to two. It came with a spare battery that has a longer life span of around 5 hours but doesn't sit flush in the laptop and makes it larger, which means you can't fit it in the protective cover Samsung provided for it. Weight wise, it doesn't add much however so that's a minor quibble.

      This is only available to buy second hand now and while I absolutely love it, I am hesitant to recommend it mainly because of the screen issues. I believe if you pay well over £1,000 for a computer, the screen should be of tip-top quality and should not be pixellating after less than two years.

      The speed of the processor is also a drawback, even closing the machine down can seem interminable at times.

      However for me this machine is priceless - it goes everywhere with me now when I travel and passes the time on train journeys from Edinburgh to London, and makes that mobile internet that's included in my mobile phone package easier to use on the go. Long may it continue to come on family holidays and remind me of the very special man who bought it.


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