Samsung R780 notebook
This laptop is the bigger brother to the Samsung R580 that we reviewed a couple of weeks back. Its snazzy semi-transparent deep red casing caught the eye, and that's duplicated here. Samsung has also neatly mirrored the default wallpaper on the display with a similarly swirly design, though with a black background.
The display here is a whopping 17.3 inches, so you won't be carting this around all the time, one hopes - it is portable, but it's not light, so find a place for it and leave it there. It weighs a little less than 3kg, but not much. The glossy screen is high-resolution at 1600 x 900 which looks impressively sharp even if it's not the full 1920 x 1080 HD.
Since there's a Blu-ray playback drive you won't be getting the best resolution but even so, it looks good. For best movie playback results you'll want to connect your HD TV using the HDMI out connection, or an external monitor. Like many laptops now, the backlighting is LED so it's instantly bright unlike non-LED screens which take time to warm up fully.
The design strengths of the R580 are replicated here, down to the self-coloured trackpad and mouse rocker button which use the same smart red swirls, with the pad itself defined by a pinhead-tiny blue LED on each corner, fading out after a few seconds of inactivity. It feels different to the rest of the casing - matte instead of gloss.
The keyboard on the R580 was good but not outstanding and this is more of the same, though the large tile keys are certainly spread out enough not to feel cramped and have a springiness to make typing easier. And there's a full extended keyboard with separate number pad here on the R780.
Battery life isn't exceptional at less than 3 hours, but then you're mostly going to be using the mains to power this machine rather than lugging it about and is about par for the course in notebooks of this type.
The average sound quality on the R580 is repeated here, too with limited bass from the twin 2W speakers which sit just north of the keys: another reason why you might want to connect the laptop to a TV or home cinema for Blu-ray playback.
Connectivity is good - apart from the HDMI socket mentioned there are four USB connectors and one of those offers charging of your iPod or other USB-charged device whilst the laptop is in standby using Sleep-and-Charge, and eSATA. Wireless connectivity comes in the form of Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi b/g/n.
Overall, this is a great-value computer which for all uses - apart from the limited resolution on Blu-ray playback - and has more than adequate graphics from the Nvidia GeForce GT 330M. The model tested had the same processor as the smaller R580 (Intel Core i3 330M at 2.13GHz) but didn't seem to struggle, though it isn't the fastest computer in the shop either, with an i5 version available too.
Mind you, for this price, it performs well, even if the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium it comes with means the 4GB of RAM isn't fully exploited. Still, the 500GB hard drive isn't too shabby and there's that above-average styling to admire too.
Looks good, works well and doesn't cost a packet - what's not to like? Well, apart from the disappointing sound and below par Blu-ray playback, not much. For the most part, though, this is a stylish machine which delivers good results.