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Recently I have had to use a laptop from work due to it having a lot of documentation on it that I needed to work on.
The last time I this happened I was soon infuriated by the slack performance and inability to save files before losing all my data, which led to many rather angry moments between me and a very unreliable laptop. So, as you can guess I was not looking forwards to using another of the dreaded computers from work, remembering the hassles I had the last time.
Anyway, when I went into the office to pick it up, realising how long it had been since my last visit due to the many new faces sat around, I was handed a rucksack containing the laptop. So off I went, not really looking forward to the many tasks ahead with the usual cheap and nasty computers that my company felt were adequate for todays businesses.
When I got into my car I dragged the laptop from the bag and was very surprised indeed as I realised that this computer I was holding was not the usual crappy bits of plastic and wire I was usual given. It was in fact a lovely looking, if slightly longer than standard, curvy number with a dark red casing.
On further inspection I discovered that it was in fact a brand I had actually heard of and one that had a good reputation behind it, the brand name being Samsung.
In fact, for a split second I was going to take it back to the office, convinced that I had been given the wrong one, but then I changed my mind, fired up the car and burnt rubber to get out of there before the office staff realised their mistake.
When I got home I immediately set about putting the computer through it's paces, whilst checking through the massive pile of work I had been asked to go through, why my company still prefers to use paper I'll never know, when ever I hand in projects they're always on discs or pen drives, (you have to think of the planet don't you?)
Anyway, the laptop I was now using, and would be using for at least a couple of weeks was the Samsung R580, which, after a few hours working with it, I found it to be quite well equipped indeed with a rather comfortable feel to it.
** WHAT DOES IT HAVE THEN...
This particular Samsung has an Intel Core Intel® CoreTM i3-330M Processor, 2.13 Ghz (3MB L3 cache), and a hefty 500GB hard drive, running with 4GB of RAM, (I think the maximum for this laptop is 8GB)
It has the latest operating system, being windows 7, albeit professional and not Ultimate.
It features want they call an energy efficient LED back lighting, plus a great looking 15.6 inch 'widescreen type', 1366 x 786 pixels LCD screen with a which gives a brilliantly bright picture.
It also features other things such as
* DVD+RW (+R double layer)
* NVIDIA GeForce 310M GPU (graphics card).
* Wireless-N WiFi technology
* RJ-45 Ethernet port
* 4 USB ports
* built in 1.3 mega pixel webcam.
* HDMI and VGA external display options
* 2 in built speakers each being 2 watts
It is a good sized unit, being about 380 x 255 x 37 mm, with a rather curvy body and weighing in at a lightweight 2.6kg
** IN CONCLUSION...
I have used many different laptops during my years, such as acer, Packard bell, Toshiba and even the frightful e-machine, (still sends shivers down my spine thinking of my e-machine experience), my personal preference being Dell, so when I got my hands on this Samsung I was eager to give it a good thrashing.
I had used another of the Samsung R series and this one gave me many negative views about the Samsung range, although I'm always keen to give things a go, especially if it costs me nothing.
To me, this R580 is the best in the R series, being a lot nicer to look at than the R519, which I felt was so badly constructed it felt like a childs toy which would have failed in gaining a British kite mark, with its plastic inner body and badly fitting buttons, clicking and clacking on every touch, sounding as though it could just snap apart at any moment. But this R580 has done a good job in making me look again at the R series.
The colouring goes well together, black keys against a red background sort of go, although I still prefer silver and black myself, but then again I'm an old fashioned sort of guy.
The keys are well spaced out, although seeming a little stiff at times and, unlike many other laptop keyboards, this one has separate number keys, which is great for those that are used to using a standard desk top keyboard, although it does make the keyboard feel a little strange to begin with if you're used to a normal laptop.
I personally found this very useful indeed as I had a lot of numbers to input so this really did save me a lot of time and hassle once I had got used to the fact that they were there.
Below the keyboard is the good sized touchpad which reacts to the slightest finger print, (although the sensitivity can be adjusted quite easily in the control panel). The touchpad does seem to be camouflaged within the unit but Samsung have cleverly placed four small lights around it so that you can see where the cover ends and the touch pad starts, a bit of a pointless exercise but it looks good anyway.
The NVIDIA GeForce 310M GPU graphics card really is a nice little gem and helps give a crisp and clear picture, which is great for those who enjoy nothing more than watching a few DVDs. Coupled with the 15.6 inch screen, which hardly has any glare, and the 16:9 format high definition, the picture quality is as good as watching it on a standard television, although there is a HDMI port which lets you actually connect the laptop to your television if you want a bigger picture. The 16:9 format means that there are no black lines surrounding the picture to distract your eyes from what you are watching.
The built- in webcam is probably a useful tool, although I didn't use it to talk to other people I only used it to try it's capabilities out with. It may be only 1.3 mega pixel but, depending on software, it does what it is meant to do if you want to keep in touch this way.
Personally I use Roxio creator as the software to use the webcam as this stops any flicking or bad synching, although there are several pieces of software out there to use.
As for the operating system itself, well, this Samsung has the latest in windows offering, being Windows 7 professional, although not the Ultimate but good for every day users like myself.
I have been a Vista user for some time now and have found this to be quite good for what I need, and I know that many people would argue the point, so I am still a novice when it comes to windows 7. Although on first impressions the actual operating system is simply vista with a few tweaks to make it look and feel easier to use, such as the 'snap' effect ,but I am not here to talk about the OS am I.
So anyway, back to the Samsung R580 for which this review is about.
It's battery life is remarkably good considering what it is using inside, although it does depend on the functions you have set, but a fully charged battery can last as long 3 hours or more.
There is also what they call 'sleep and charge', which apparently allows you to attach things like MP3 players, or other such USB connectable devices, and charge them from the laptop, even if it is not running... marvellous indeed, although I never got round to using this function.
As for the CPU, well from what I know about processors the one inside this machine, the Intel Core Intel® CoreTM i3-330M Processor, 2.13 Ghz, has an built in graphics processor and, together with the Nvidia GeForce graphics card, this machine is not too bad for playing games on, again, which I never got round to testing, (honest Boss, I was busy doing all that work I was given).
Sadly though, after a few hours of use, getting over the initial 'new toy excitement' syndrome, I began to notice a few negatives about the laptop, although not negative enough to make me want to throw this out of the window in the path of a double decker bus.
The plastic casing may be as curvy as a super model eating her lettuce leaf but, unlike the Samsung promise, it was easily marked and I accidentally scratched the palm rest area quicker than a dog with fleas, why Samsung didn't think about this a bit more I will never know, although, like. I said, they claim this sparklingly new body design was more robust.
The built in speakers, which are a bit of a let down and won't blast you ear drum when you're listening to your favourite ABBA tracks but they are clear enough to help you enjoy everything that comes out of them, as long as you are near the computer at the time. But to rectify this you simply need to plug in external speakers to benefit,
And I also feel a little let down by the actual lid itself as it tends to slap down a bit too roughly for my liking when closing it, I hope this doesn't damage the screen on any way.
After a quick search around looking for the price of this one I found that it sells on average around the £600 region, which, in my opinion, is a little too much for the unit itself. There are other laptops on the market with the same, if not better specs, for a less money.
In all, a fine laptop and should please most users with its handling and performance, but, considering its cheap plastic type feel, I do think you're paying more for the Samsung logo than the unit itself.
Would I buy one..? Maybe I would, but only if it was in a sale somewhere as I feel the normal price is a little hefty, but it does offer a good workable laptop.
NOTE: nothing to do with the Samsung R580 itself but...
The Windows 7 operating system installed is somewhat new to me as I have been using Windows Vista for a long while (and, for the record, I have never had any trouble with it at all), so when I started using this new OS I was expecting quite remarkable things.
Sadly, it is not all that it is cracked up to be in my opinion, even if it has a few nice looking 'tools'., So, if I get a few weeks more practice on this system I may have to do a review on it very soon.