Samsung 15.6" R580 Multimedia Notebook

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Samsung has not traditionally played a huge role in the evolution of notebooks. Companies such as Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer and Asus have all done noteworthy things to push the envelope, with the Adamo XPS, ThinkPad, IdeaPad and Eee PC all coming from this group. Even those who don't follow technology on a daily basis would probably associate those names with notebooks, but we wonder just how big a following Samsung has in the mobile computing sector. It's not like Samsung is a newbie in the notebook world, but they've definitely played a more "low-key" role over the past few years.



Taking all that into consideration, we have to commend Samsung on the launch of their R80 series. These machines were just introduced this month, and we have managed to grab one of the first R580 notebooks (the 15.6" in the R80 series, which is accompanied by the 14" R480 and the 17.3" R780) to leave the production line. Samsung's making quite a bold move here. This is one of the first mobile Core i5 machines out there, particularly when you're looking for a Core i5 machine with both style and a full number pad.



This is also one of the thinner and lighter Core i5 machines available; at just under 6 pounds, it certainly isn't a lightweight, but given just how powerful the Core i5 silicon is, we expected the chassis to be even thicker, the weight even higher and the heat/noise output to be substantial versus thin and light offerings. The swirled red design is also one of the more stylish choices available, though we understand that this won't work for everyone. Business users who need an understated machine will obviously have no interest, but those looking for a dash of personality without the overkill as seen on some of the gamer-centric notebooks may see this as a perfect sweet spot.

Samsung 15.6" R580 Notebook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Core i5-430M  @ 2.27GHz, 1066MHz FSB; 3MB Cache
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM (1066MHz)
  • 15.6" LCD (1366x768); LED backlight, glossy
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M (512MB) graphics
  • 500GB (5400RPM) Seagate Momentus 5400.6 Hard Drive
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Blu-ray/DVD dual-layer Optical Drive (DVD±RW/Blu-ray Disc/CD-RW)
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • VGA and HDMI
  • USB 2.0 x 4 and eSATA
  • 34mm ExpressCard Slot
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • SD / MMC / SDHC Multimedia Card Reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Gesture-Enabled Multi-Touch Trackpad
  • 5.7 Pounds (with 6-cell battery installed)
  • Removable 6-Cell Li-ion Battery
  • 14.95" x 10.05" x 1.20" (Dimensions)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit)
  • Price (as tested): $829.99
  • 1-Year Warranty

 




Another area where Samsung impresses is the price point. It's clear that Samsung is aiming to take on the competition here in a big way by pricing a Core i5 notebook at under $850. This kind of MSRP will certainly grab attention (and having the R80 line in Best Buy shouldn't hurt matters, either). It's easy to see where corners were cut though. The screen resolution is low for a panel this large, and the 5400RPM hard drive is also sluggish. And then there's the 32-bit OS coupled with 4GB of RAM, but because of 32-bit limitations, only ~3GB can be seen and used by the OS. We'll break down the pros and cons in the pages to come, and we'll toss out a slew of benchmarks to help you get a better idea of what the R580 is capable of.


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