The Samsung P580 is a business grade laptop that isn’t going to win any prizes for looking good or showing off fancy features. But it is a solid performer.
The 15.6-inch screen delivers 1366 x 760 pixels and has a non-glossy finish as befits its business focus. This means there is no reflectivity from lights that might be behind you or to one side of you, but the colours aren’t as vibrant as they might be, and the viewing angles are good but not great. If you do lots of multimedia activity you might want a better display, but if working with words is your thing it should be fine.
The width of the screen means that Samsung has been able to fit a separate number pad next to the keyboard without compromising key sizes, and typing was very comfortable. There is almost no flex in the keyboard and the keys are responsive.
Samsung has equipped the P580 with two Fn keys, one in its usual place on the left of the keyboard and the second on the right near the arrow keys. This second Fn key helps you use the arrow keys for brightness and volume control very easily and one-handed.
The touchpad has some multitouch features with pinch-to-zoom support which is great when you are web browsing, and there are horizontal and vertical scroll zones too. The only downside of the whole keyboard area is the two mouse buttons, which are designed to be flush to the wrist rest and to the bottom edge of the touchpad, making them a little tricky to use.
You don’t get a fingerprint scanner, which will put some business users off immediately, though to be honest we don’t see these being used a great deal on the train, so maybe they are an IT department’s desire rather than an actual user’s need.
There is a webcam above the screen and you get the rather consumer grade Cyberlink YouCam software which lets you do things like distort your face and put frames and animations onto it or even use an avatar instead of your own face. This is probably not what you want to do in a crucial business teleconference, but it might be good for some after-hours fun when you call the kids from a hotel room.
The specifications are fine for a general workhorse laptop. Windows 7 Professional 32-bit runs on an Intel Core i3 330M processor with 3GB of RAM and a 320GB, 5400rpm hard drive with shock protection. The nVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics chipset ensures video playback is smooth.
Ports and connectors aren’t super-numerous, but you do get four USB ports including one powered and one a combo eSATA port, plus VGA, HDMI, card reader and microphone and headphones. There is also a connector for the built-in Gigabit Ethernet. There is an optical drive too, of course, and an internal microphone if you don’t want to use a headset for your video calls. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both here too.
The Samsung P580 managed to deliver continuous video playback from a DVD for just a little over two hours on its optimised power plan. That isn’t a disaster, but it indicates that the frequent traveller might need to carry a mains power adaptor or second battery.