Rummys Blog An world of endless Monday

Monday, 12 April, 2010

R780 review

Filed under: General — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 11:27 am

Last week I got hold of a new laptop, see a Samsung R780. Something of a splash out for me since my old laptop was only 3 years old and probably still good for another year. I would have preferred the smaller model (R580) but it wasn’t available with the same kind of spec. There are some other reviews available on the web, site the most comprehensive is at notebookcheck.com, unhealthy this is a review of the slightly better model, but virtually everything still applies.

My very first impression was that it’s big, it’s literally twice the size of Sue’s netbook, a Samsung N140, as you can see in this photo:

More than twice the size of a netbook

 The second impression was surprise at how light it is, despite being a 17.3 inch screen it’s still lighter than my old Dell 15.6 incher.

Battery life.

I’ve gotten used to keeping my dell tethered to the mains socket and this one is going to be no different, the small battery means I’ll not get too much more than 2 hours of web browsing and, I imagine, barely any gaming before it’s time to recharge, still it’s enough for a bit of browsing in bed morning and evening.

The keyboard.

This is probably my least favourite bit. It’s a “scrabble tile” style of keyboard with a numeric keypad. The key caps are flat and the home keys aren’t marked very well. The numeric keypad means the actual typing zone is pushed off to the left. The very light-touch keys don’t give a lot of tactile feedback and occasionally seem to “bounce” giving me doubled up keypresses. I think I’ll have to go into the accessibility section of the control panel to see if there’s anything I can fix in software to reduce the bouncing.

More significantly for some users is the lack of “media” buttons, there are no mute/volume up&down/pause/next track/prev track buttons. The volume can be adjusted using FN+cursor keys and Mute is miles away. But this is an odd lack on a machine of this spec.

Weight.

As I mentioned, it’s quite lightweight for its size, it isn’t any trouble at all resting it on my laptop for extended playing.

Screen.

This is huge at 17.3 inches and quite colourful compared the the dell. It is “proper” 16:9 widescreen, though at 1600:900 not quite full HD. The angle of view is quite tight, particularly vertically, when it’s on my lap I can see that the top and bottom are slightly brighter than the middle, this dissapears if you put the machine a little further away, say on a desktop. Sue says that it is clearer from the sides than my old lappy though. I’m sure we will be able to watch iPlayer in bed with no problems. In fact the closer screen will mean that visually it will be much bigger than our TV (which is only 20 inches and a good 3m away).

Samsung’s warranty says that you can have up to 2 “light pixels” and 4 “dark pixels” with no more than 4 dodgy pixels in total. I was a bit worried by this, but my screen has no defects (your mileage may vary of course).

Performance.

Yup it’s well nippy. Some of this will be because its a new system missing all of the Crud that 3 years continuous use will put on an older system. Some will be because it’s Windows7 and not Vista. Some will be the 4GB instead of 2GB of RAM. And finally some will simply be the faster CPU and GPU.

Gaming.

For me, one of the most desired features of this machine was its powerful (for a laptop) GPU, an NVidia 330M which knocks the spots of my old ATI X1400. I only really play one game, World of Warcraft, but I can turn everything up to “Ultra”, knock the shadows down a few notches, set the NVidia to prefer quality, set the AA to max and still get a better framerate that I used to. I do like shadows! The big screen is really big and high res! I actually feel like I can see more of the world.

Heat and noise.

I never realised that this could be an issue, my old laptop got very warm, but not too hot to touch, this one is cool. And much quieter even under load than my old one when idle. That is nice in a quiet house like ours.

Bundled software.

 It comes with a bunch of fairly useful Samsung software, a blueray  player and dvd burner, and antivirus. It also comes with some 60 day trialware that, like all trialware, should simply be uninstalled! It does unfortunately come with only 32bit version of Windows 7 so half a GB of that 4GB RAM goes missing! Also it comes with NO recovery discs whatsoever, not even a restore disk! You are left entirely at the mercy of the recovery solution!

Webcam.

This is quite grainy, and I seem quite small in the image, but it is still better than having to carry around an external one.

Build quality.

 This seems fine, it is in no-way “industrial” but then they have had to compromise between weight and size. The worst thing is the DVD drive cover which is right where you grab the machine to pick it up.

Optical drive.

Although this model was advertised on Dixons site as having a DVD drive in fact it came with a Blu-Ray/DVD burner combo drive. Its a shame our main TV is only 1024×768 and doesn’t even have HDMI or VGA in so the bluray is redundant.

Price and alternatives..

I managed to snag this machine for £680, a decent price for the spec (common pricing is £790!). Note: mine is an i5 CPU with 330M GPU and BlueRay, and not the i3 CPU, poorer graphics card and no BluRay that is more common at the same price point – DONT get BURNT, I would not pay this price for the lower spec!

When I started looking I was going to get one of the ACER 5740G variants with very similar specs, 64bit windows instead of 32bit, a slightly better GPU – the overclockable ATI 5650, and 15.6 inch screen. After discounts that one was going to cost £660. I even got as far as placing an order when suddenly the stock dissapeared and the next delivery isn’t due for at least a month (if ever), the discount code would have expired and it would have ended up costing me £30 more.

Other alternatives were a Dell Vostro (business) which for a similar spec would have cost a reasonable bit less. But I’ve had a Dell and wasn’t impressed with their non-existant post sales driver updates, the old Dell had a nice piece of software that was supposed to let me know when new drivers were in – except it never did, not even when there were updates!

It’s a minefield out there with so many different variations on a single spec many of the spec sheets are wrong! MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING WHAT YOU WANT. I saved the spec sheet from the shop site when I bought mine in case they sent me a lower spec and I had to return it.

And finally I was looking at the Alienware M11x (again cheaper buying as “business” with the £90 discount voucher). I was seriously tempted, 6 hours of browsing-battery was very tempting, but a slower CPU, and very shiny screen were definite downsides, no built in DVD drive was also a minus. What finally soured it for me was the screen size, I cut a sheet of A4 down to the 11.6 screen size and looked at it – and NO, just NO! I didn’t even get as far as printing a snapshot.

Overall.

I got almost exactly what I was expecting from the review on notebookcheck, I am happy with it, and I’m still a Samsung fanboy.

Windows Experience Index

 

Click through for a huge snapshot.

2 Comments »

  1. where did you purchase it for £680?

    Comment by sj — Tuesday, 20 April, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

  2. I bought it from Dixons when it was at 699 with a 20 pound discount. Unfortunately I think they’ve ended that deal.

    Comment by Andrew.Rowbottom — Wednesday, 21 April, 2010 @ 11:27 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress