With a compact and relatively lightweight design, the R522 from Samsung is an attractive laptop aimed at those who want reasonable performance on-the-go.
The core specs are solid enough: Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor, 4GB of RAM and Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics. Samsung also includes a 320GB hard drive, which should be more than big enough for the average user.
Gamers will instantly turn their noses up at the integrated graphics, but given the relatively low price of the R522 it’s hardly surprising 3D performance wasn’t top of Samsung’s list of priorities. The score of 1,018 in 3Dmark06 at 1024 x 768 resolution is further proof that this is not a gaming machine.
Open the laptop up and you’re greeted with a simple but attractive all-black design. The 15.6-inch screen is bright, has a glossy coating and performs well outdoors. As seems to be the trend these days, Samsung has opted for a 16:9 aspect ratio with a resolution of 1366 x 768, which means you get slightly fewer pixels compared with standard 16:10 displays. On the plus side there won’t be any black bars when watching films.
The left of the R522 is home to the majority of ports. You get two USB (one of these moonlights as an eSATA port), HDMI, VGA, audio in/out, Gigabit Ethernet and a 54mm ExpressCard slot. The power socket is also located on the left side.
Over on the right sit two more USB sockets along with the DVD writer; our only complaint with the DVD drive is that it’s a little too easy to accidentally hit the eject button when picking the laptop up. A multi-format memory card slot at the front of the chassis completes the line-up of ports.
The keyboard is perhaps one area that will divide opinion. The design is similar to that of the Apple Macbook range, but it’s not nearly as comfortable to type on. We felt the keys needed a more concave design or perhaps a harsher texture to stop inadvertent slips onto neighbouring keys. We also found the keys rattled a little too much, but on the whole it’s a decent keyboard that responds well.
In an effort to liven things up, Samsung has furnished the trackpad with a glowing blue light around the rim. Whether or not you like it is a matter of personal taste, but it turns itself off after around 30 seconds of trackpad inactivity so it won’t distract while watching movies.
We got something of a shock when we first read the R522′s specification list, since it appeared Samsung was shipping it with an Atheros wireless card that only supports 802.11b/g networks. Confident it was a typo, we cranked open the mini PCI Express slot on the underside of the laptop to see for ourselves.
Sure enough, the Atheros AR5007EG wireless card was sat there, looking almost ashamed of itself. Quite why Samsung felt it necessary to cut costs and leave out 802.11n support is beyond us. Of course, if you don’t have an 802.11n wireless network it’s not a huge issue, but it still seems a strange decision.
At 2.55kg the R522 is reasonably light, but it’s certainly not something to rival a netbook’s portability. In our intensive use test (basically a worst case scenario), the battery lasted just over two hours. Go a little easier on it, though, and you can expect over three hours, which isn’t at all bad.
In terms of software, there’s nothing to write home about. The operating system comes in the form of Windows Vista Home Premium, while extras include a bunch of Samsung utilities and the usual batch of trialware.
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