Samsung's Q430 Small Business Notebook Delivers Performance and Style
If you don't have Samsung on your small business notebook shopping list, you should. The Samsung Q430 is a 14-inch mainstream notebook PC ideally suited to the small business buyer looking for strong performance, stylish good looks and plenty of features at an $800 price point.
The Q430's Understated Laptop Design
The first thing you'll notice about the Samsung Q430 is the sharp design. While most affordable small business notebooks make due with a glossy plastic outer shell, the Q430 comes encased in a sleek brushed-aluminum skin that both looks and feels terrific. The black finish keeps the overall impression understated and classy, which is preferable in client meetings to the "look at me" statement made by those candy-colored notebooks. The finish is also impervious to fingerprint smudges, so you won't feel the need to constantly buff the lid.
The Samsung Q430 offers a lot of power and features at a great price for a small business notebook.
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The contrasting silver deck -- also done in brushed aluminum -- surrounding the black keyboard adds to the visual appeal. And the edge-to-edge glass over the LCD screen enhances the modern, upscale look. As for portability, Samsung kept the Q430's weight to right around 5 pounds and the chassis thickness to 1.3 inches. While those numbers are reasonable for an affordable 14-inch notebook PC, note that you can find 14-inch models closer to 4 pounds and 1-inch thick -- but you'll pay more for the privilege.
A Laptop Loaded with Features
If Samsung had delivered just another pretty face, that would be one thing. But the Q430 includes just about every feature you're likely to need in a small business notebook. Samsung started with a high-quality 14-inch LCD panel that delivers crisp text and vibrant colors. Like most other notebook PC screens these days, the widescreen panel employs an LED array as the backlight, which ups the panel's contrast ratio while also conserving power.
The roomy screen on the Q430 provides enough space for a full-size keyboard. We found the widely spaced keys comfortable to type on and, just as importantly, quiet. You won't need to worry about annoying people sitting next to you as you tap away.
We're also happy to see a 500GB hard drive, which means you can house both your business files and your personal photo and music collections. The Q430 includes the requisite multi-format DVD drive for reading and writing CDs and DVDs.
An integrated 2-megapixel webcam for video chatting, creating video email, and capturing stills and video sits above the screen. Notably, the camera delivered a sharp, natural image under typical office lighting as well as a decent image in a dim room (think hotel room at night with just a desk lamp on) -- a feat not every camera can muster.
On the connectivity front, the Q430 includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi for connecting to wireless networks at your home or office and on the go. Unfortunately, like other affordable notebook PCs, the Q430 does not include built-in Bluetooth for syncing with a smartphone or other device.
On the plus side, one of the notebook's three USB ports delivers Samsung's Chargeable USB feature: Plug in your iPod/iPhone, Flip camera, smartphone or other portable device that charges via a USB connection and its battery will charge even if the Q430 is in sleep mode or even when it's completely off.
As for other ports, the Q430 includes a LAN jack for connecting to a wired Ethernet network, plus VGA and HDMI connectors for porting the laptop's video signal to an external projector, monitor or TV. Samsung included a 3-in-1 reader that supports SD, SDHC and MMC memory cards.
However, if you've committed to an ExpressCard device or two, note that the Q430 does not include a slot for those. Another thing missing that we would have preferred to see is an eSATA port, which is becoming the de facto standard for connecting external high-speed hard drives for extra storage and backup.