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Samsung Q1 SSD review

The flashy little ultra mobile PC

Our Verdict

The addition of the flash drive makes this a far more tempting tool. But it's not for everyone

For

  • Flash drive makes it much quicker to use

    Packed with handy features

    Excellent screen, with solid touch abilities

Against

  • Battery life isn't much of an improvement

    Some of the software is clunky

The UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) may not have caught the imagination of the consumer in exactly the way Microsoft and its partners intended, but the device is proving popular in businesses where small handhelds are seen as an advantage.

The Samsung Q1 SSD (£1399 inc. VAT) is an updated version of the original model, with the main change being the use of a solid state hard drive, instead of a standard mechanical disk. So you'll find this the first mobile device pre-installed with Windows XP that ships with no moving parts inside.

This may reduce the capacity of the drive to 32GB of NAND Flash memory, but it also helps reduce the weight to 745g.

The main difference comes in performance, though. Write speeds are twice what you can expect from a mechanical drive. Read speeds are four times as fast. You can see why this version returned an improved MobileMark 2005 score of 166, over the previous score of 128. True, this isn't in line with the speed found on a Core 2 Duo laptop, but it solves some of the performance problems of the format.

The other winning factor of opting for solid state should be in a prolonged battery life, as SSD has a power usage of 0.5 watts when being used, compared to 1.5 watts for a mechanical drive.

Sadly, this advantage wasn't seen, as tests returned a battery life of 192 minutes, which was slightly less than the previous model. However, with over three hours of battery life, it outlasts a typical Tablet PC, which would weigh in at twice the weight.

The styling is still the same, with the Q1 having a consumer look and feel to its shiny black plastic casing. The 7-inch touchscreen is sensitive and responds well. The controls are adequate, with a multi-directional stick allowing you to move between icons, but we'd like a little more information as to what they actually do.

The only real problem with the device is the use of Microsoft's TouchPack software, which isn't intuitive and doesn't allow you to use the device as intended. Thankfully, it's supplied with a USB keyboard.

Connectivity is good, as you'll find 802.11g as standard, and with a CompactFlash reader you can share images from your high-end digital camera. Samsung should be commended for sticking with the UMPC. Others are sitting on the fence waiting to see how the market will develop while Samsung is making a strong brand for itself.

The next iteration is to come with 3G, which will turn the device into an even better business tool. It may not be the fastest device around but the use of a solid state hard drive makes it a far more appealing device.