Samsung Q1-SSD review
Despite the improved specifications, the Q1-SSD is anything but mobile computing nirvana.
Externally, the Q1 hasn't changed at all since we last saw it, but there have been changes on the inside. There's a 32GB solid-state hard disk, the RAM has been bumped up to 1GB from 512MB and you also get 802.11a/b/g wireless.
There's still the same joystick to the left of the main body, which apes the cursor keys, and a resolution changer to overscale the screen. To the right, there's a user-defined application launcher, plus an Enter and Menu button. The Hold and dedicated volume buttons round off a fair attempt at a functional slate PC.
However, using the Q1 as a portable PC is still another matter. There's no trackpoint, no keyboard and no right-click function for the plastic stylus. The Sony UX1 at least has its small keyboard and mouse buttons, giving you full control over Windows. With the Q1, you have to take the keyboard and wallet to get the same control. This, unfortunately, ups the size and weight to 280 x 159 x 56mm (WDH) and 1.4kg.
That's within ultraportable notebook territory. And with an ultraportable you'd get a 12.1in 1,280 x 800 TFT rather than the restrictive 7in 800 x 480 screen here. You'd also get a robust keyboard that doesn't squirm around in its mountings as you type, and a proper trackpad rather than the less functional trackpoint on the portable keyboard. And with the Sony VAIO VGN-TX3XP (see issue 145, p57), you even get an integrated optical drive.
To further compound the problems we saw a very low benchmark score, mainly due to poor multitasking. This isn't of much surprise given the 900MHz Celeron M driving Windows XP, but we hoped the 1GB of RAM, would have helped a little more. In everyday use, we found the Q1-SSD snappy and responsive, but having many applications running did slow things down. Battery life was also a little disappointing, with only around 3hrs in light use. At least the plastic casing felt reliably rugged, a bonus given the measly one-year warranty.
While direct comparisons with ultraportables may seem unfair, they're inevitable in the case of the Q1-SSD because of the near-necessity of the portable keyboard in every situation. Sony has made the necessary inclusions to let you use the UX1 on its own, and so avoids the same treatment. Given that you can't even complete basic tasks such as respond to an email on the Q1-SSD without the keyboard, most people will be much better off with an ultraportable. Take the Sony VAIO VGN-TX3XP, which costs £100 more but gives you a neater travel package, has a longer battery life and is easier to use. It's also faster and is roughly the same size and weight - a mobile computing bargain when compared to the Q1-SSD.