Samsung isn't as big a name in notebooks as it is in televisions and mobile phones. But, with a well deserved reputation for quality and style, any new product from the Korean giant comes with a healthy level of expectation. Having made a big splash last year when in first launched its ‘Aura' notebook concept, it has returned and refined its design with its latest offering, the R410.
A follow-up to the original Aura laptop, the R20, the R410 is an affordable 14.1in model aimed at people who want a moderately portable all-rounder. Weighing 2.4kg, in essence it's a compromise for those that find 15.4in machines too heavy and bulky, but find the smaller screens and keyboards found on 12.1in and 13.3in laptops uncomfortable to use for long periods.
Outwardly the changes in appearance are quite subtle. You'll still find that glossy black lid that's so recognisably Samsung, but everything about the R410 looks and feels a little more accomplished. Where the R20 looked slightly angular, the R410 is smooth, rounded and pleasant to handle. This "smoothness" is continued in the finishing. Whereas inside the R20 had a slightly gritty, textured feel, the matte plastic inside the R410 is...well, it's smooth.
There are few other nice touches, too. Around the edges are symbols to help you locate ports and the touchpad is nicely integrated flush into the surface. Meanwhile, Samsung has finally got its keyboard layout right, with the Fn key sitting inside of the Ctrl key. This was the only thing that really irritated about Samsung notebooks of the past and, as a consequence, the keyboard on the R410 is really very good. Keys are light, lighter than many, and have a nice level of depth and response and the now adjusted layout has no discernible problems.
Another area of improvement is the glossy black lid. Predictably, it's still a magnet for fingerprints (a cleaning cloth is supplied), but Samsung has applied a new coating that makes it far less vulnerable to scratches. Anyone who has used or owned any of Samsung's previous generation of notebooks will appreciate this point and though this isn't to say the R410 is totally scratch proof, it's nothing like as bad as before.
This should help keep the R410 looking good for longer and there's no doubt this is an attractive machine. It may not be as eye-catching as some, but it has a classy simplicity that's hard to dislike.