Samsung R620 notebook

Samsung is known for its range of well-priced and well-made laptops, and the R620 is an affordable 16-inch media centre that sits towards the top of the company’s range.

Aimed at the budget end of the multimedia market, the R620 is one of the cheapest machines available with an integrated Blu-ray drive. The screen isn’t sharp enough to take full advantage of Full HD movies, but an HDMI-out port does let you hook up a high-definition TV.

The 16-inch screen features the same 16:9 aspect ratio as most of the other laptops we’ve seen, natively supporting the latest films but also loosing out on vertical pixels. The 1366 x 768 pixel resolution is nothing special on a screen of this size, but images are reasonably detailed none the less. Brightness levels are good, but blacks and darker colours could be deeper.

The keyboard offers excellent comfort, and is near identical in style to the previous generation of Sony VAIOs. The keys are large and flat, but with slight indentations around the edges to make it easier to distinguish between keys. With a good amount of travel, it’s easy to type for long periods without discomfort.

The touchpad features the same 16:9 aspect ratio as the display, and is smooth and responsive. Blue lighting around the edges of the pad help to give this machine a distinctive appearance and it thankfully dims automatically if you leave the controls alone for a few seconds – something we particularly appreciated when watching films.

Build quality is great, with strong plastics used for the palm rests, hinges and chassis itself. The thick screen surround also shows no sign of flex when put under pressure, although the glossy finish looks like it’ll scratch easily, and is quickly covered in grime and fingerprints.

Strong performance is offered by the 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 processor, which is supported by 3072MB of memory. Although not the quickest machine we’ve seen, it’s more than capable for daily use, multi-tasking and demanding office tasks. Battery life is also reasonable, lasting for around 4 hours under moderate use.

Graphics performance isn’t quite so impressive for a multimedia system. The ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics card is capable of playing older games, but we found newer titles brought the system to a halt. HD videos play back smoothly, however, and we had no trouble carrying out photo or video editing tasks.

When it comes to features, a 320GB hard drive offers plenty of storage space for your photo and video collections and, although the Blu-ray drive isn’t capable of writing to blank Blu-ray disks, it does write to all current formats of DVDs and CDs.

Samsung has fitted VGA and HDMI ports on the left-hand side of the R620 for hooking up analogue and digital external displays, and you’ll also find a couple of USB ports – one of which doubles as an eSATA port. There’s also an ExpressCard 54 slot. An SD card reader sits on the front corner. Aside from the optical drive, there are a further two USB ports situated on the right-hand side of the chassis.

Verdict

If you’re in the market for a multimedia laptop, you could do a lot worse than the R620. Well-made, attractive and with a good feature set for the money, it’s an impressive machine. Only its mediocre 3D performance lets it down, but at this price it’s hard to complain.


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