There are certain times when you pull a laptop out of its packaging and you know that what you’re looking at is a thing of beauty. Samsung’s R780 is just such a gem, with its swirling burgundy and black design and the lusciousness of its tapered edges and smooth curves. If it’s possible for a laptop to be sexy, then this is it.
Now just in case you’re wondering whether the R780 is going to be just a triumph of style over content, there’s plenty to reassure you. For a start the casing feels strong and firm and is designed to shrug off bumps and scrapes and to minimise fingerprints. As it comes with a 17.3-inch screen and is principally intended as a desktop substitute, it’s obviously not going to be featherweight, yet it’s still no heavier than 2.84kg.
What you do notice from the backlit screen is how bright it is, being an LED HD+ with 1600 x 900 resolution and in 16:9 widescreen ratio. Because our sample came with a Blu-ray player we gave it the Avatar treatment and, while the detail was excellent and there was no trace of ghosting, we had to tone down the brightness to bring out the movie’s naturally rich colours; and of course you don’t get Full HD. Viewing angles were best from front and side rather than from above and there was an impressive contrast between the especially quiet running of the machine and the louder than normal performance of the 2 x 2W stereo speakers.
And speaking of performance, the R780 is powered by Intel’s Core i5 430M CPU clocked at 2.27GHz and sporting 4GB of DDR3 RAM, so multifunction applications are a breeze and gamers will rejoice at the choice of the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M for the graphics controller. This meant that all but the most demanding shooters showed no evidence of serious lagging, even if, in the case of graphically punishing games like Bioshock 2 and Crysis, you have to keep effects to a minimum to keep the frame rates high.
The chiclet style keyboard is an absolute joy to type on: the keys are firm yet responsive and the layout includes a full number pad and Function keys. The touch pad, which has a slight textured surface and tiny blue LEDs on the corners as demarcation points, also functions well for zooming and pinching actions, although rotation is harder work.
As for peripherals, there are four USB 2.0 ports (one of them e-SATA for external storage), HDMI and VGA (but alas no DVI-D), Ethernet, a rather meagre 3-in-1 memory card slot (surely 5 at least should be standard by now?) as well as the usual sound inputs, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi and 1.3-megapixel webcam, together with a healthy 500GB of hard drive storage. The 6-cell battery life rarely extends much beyond 3 hours 15 minutes, but this is not the kind of PC you would normally expect to be lugging round in your backpack.
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