Samsung R780 review

29 Apr 2010

A huge screen, plenty of features and a mouth-watering price make this an ideal value choice

Price when reviewed: 
790(£790 inc VAT)
5

Few laptops challenge Apple in the style stakes, but the Samsung R780 gives it a go. With its dark red "Touch of Colour" gradients and swirling pattern finish, it leaps out among the crowd. Even without the styling, it's a laptop that's hard to miss, given its 17.3in screen.

You may have already noticed the price, which looks low for such a monster, but there are reasons. For a start, that screen isn't Full HD, with Samsung opting for a less costly 1,600 x 900 resolution. That lessens the appeal of the included Blu-ray drive - you'll be limited to 720p playback - but it isn't a huge issue, as colours are gorgeous, contrast is good and the LED backlight is even and bright.

Samsung R780

That large chassis comes with an equally large keyboard, stretching virtually from edge to edge. The Scrabble-tile design keeps the keys consistent in size, and the firm backing and light travel make it comfortable to use. We're not wholly convinced by the trackpad, with a mottled coating that doesn't like greasy fingers, but four tiny corner LEDs signal its position in the dark, and the buttons are responsive.

The other main reason for the low price is the choice of processor. On paper, you might expect the dual-core Core i5-430M in the R780 to perform worse than all but the Core 2 Duo parts. However, once again Intel's Turbo Boost technology made a big difference in practice: it managed a decent 1.55 in our benchmarks, even edging older Core i7s in laptops such as the Sony VAIO F11. The Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics averaged 29fps in Crysis at Medium settings, showing solid gaming potential too.

Battery life is unspectacular, lasting 3hrs 36mins when idle and a mere hour when pushed, but the Samsung remains portable. It weighs 2.85kg despite its size, and comes with 802.11bgn wireless and a 500GB hard disk. The slight disappointment is the choice of Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, meaning not all of that 4GB of RAM is recognised.

It may not be a true powerhouse like the Acer Aspire 8942G, but the £672 exc VAT price is far lower than you'd expect. The R780 is a joy to use, it's more portable than it looks, and it's streets ahead in terms of value for money.

Details

Price ex VAT £672
Price inc VAT £790
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 6
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 411 x 273 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.850kg
Travelling weight 3.3kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-430M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 330M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba MK5055GSX
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive TSST TS-LB23A
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Base
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 36min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 0min
Overall application benchmark score 1.55
Office application benchmark score 1.39
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.60
Encoding application benchmark score 1.38
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.84
3D performance (crysis) low settings 71fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied None