Samsung – R70 review

family laptop with HDCP support
Photo of Samsung – R70

Samsung’s marketing blurb for the R-series says that it is inspired by technology (well, we’d certainly hope so), is user-friendly and ideal for the whole family. The latest member of the clan, the R70, holds up those values – as long as none of the family members are hard-core gamers, that is – and is a bit of a bargain to boot.

The technology that ‘inspires’ the R70 is Intel’s latest version of its Centrino Duo platform, better known by its codename, Santa Rosa. Because of its price point, Samsung has chosen the T7100 Core 2 Duo processor, clocked at 1.8GHz. Some may feel this is a little slow, but it’s a nice balance between performance and battery life. We managed a fairly decent 190 minute battery life under test conditions.

Backing this up is 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory, which may sound generous but with the power-hungry Vista Home Premium installed it’s about the minimum you really need. It’s installed as a single module and, as the motherboard incorporates two DIMM slots, you can at least upgrade it a later date: if you have deep enough pockets the R70 can handle up to 4GB of memory.

Despite the budget price tag, the R70 has a build quality that would shame many a more expensive notebook and it looks the part too, with its shiny, piano black exterior finish, although once you open the lid your enthusiasm may wane a little when you are confronted by the matt black interior.

The build quality continues with the keyboard, something that lets down many budget laptops but not so the R70. The keys have a decent amount of travel and the whole thing feels just right when in use. Similarly, the track-pad is good and responsive and the right-hand side of it features a vertical scrolling area. Likewise the bottom edge of the pad can be used for horizontal scrolling yet for some strange reason, unlike the vertical scroller, there are no markings to tell you that it does. In front of the touchpad there are two mouse buttons.

Powering the graphics is one of nVidia’s lastest mobile GPUs, the GeForce 8400M GS. The 8400M GS is DirectX 10 compliant and comes with 128MB of dedicated memory, but in the R70 it has been configured so it can use up to 256MB of system memory as well, thanks to Turbo Cache technology. Even so this is no games machine.

However, the 8400M GS has another card up its sleeve, namely Pure Video HD processing which allows for high quality images to be pumped out to your HD TV. To this end Samsung has done the R70 proud and installed an HDCP-compliant HDMI port into the chassis – hats off to Samsung for that one.

The R70′s screen is 15.4-inch WXGA unit with a 1,280 by 800 pixel native widescreen resolution and a glossy coating for more vividly coloured images, but – like many coatings – it is very reflective so you may feel a little restricted using the R70 outdoors. The screen has a built-in 1.3-megapixel Web-cam too.

For storage Samsung supplies the R70 with a 5,400rpm, 120GB Fujitsu hard drive and a dual layer DVD burner (with the promise of a Blu-Ray drive at a later date), enabling you to back up all your files and data. You also get a 6-in-1 card reader (MS, MS Pro, SD, MMC, xD, Highspeed MMC), and a single PC Card slot.

To enable you to keep in touch while out and about you get integrated 802.11a/b/g Wireless, Gigabit Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem. The software bundle comprises McAfee Anti-Virus and a whole host of Samsung utilities and tools.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 01932 455 000

Another winner from Samsung: this laptop has a great blend of features, performance and price. The inclusion of an HDMI port is a real plus point in its favour. Samsung's R70 may carry a budget price tag, but it's very well built and packed with features.