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Samsung R510 15.4in Notebook - Samsung R510
After the miserably awkward effort on the Asus 12.1in U6V-2P001E, the touchpad also comes as a relief. Its buttons are incredibly easy to press and the scroll zones, though not marked, are broad and responsive.
Build quality is generally excellent, though there is a slight amount of creaking in the lid. The obligatory webcam - in this case a 1.3 Megapixel model - is nestled in the silver bezel's top. A minor design-flaw is that the indicators for caps lock, hard drive activity, wireless and such are on the front of the left palm-rest, meaning you won't be able to see them when typing.
Unusually for a notebook these days, the power socket is at the back, where it is joined by two USB 2.0 ports close together and the modem and Ethernet jacks. This leaves the right side the sole providence of the DVD writer. There's a small 3-in-1 memory card reader at the front, with support for SD, SDHC and MMC card formats. Hardly a prodigious selection, but SD and SDHC are, at least, the most commonly used formats around these days.
Likewise, the remainder of connections on the left side are adequate, but nothing outstanding, comprising of another USB, VGA and HDMI out, headphone and microphone jacks and a 54mm ExpressCard slot. Another minor touch that's missing here is that the headphone socket does not double as S/PDIF, giving you analogue-only sound, but that's not unusual at this price point.
Internally the R510 is reasonably well specified. An Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 running at 2GHz is no speed demon, but is more than adequate for everyday use. As the tech-savvy among you might realize, the processor already indicates that this is not a Centrino 2 notebook. However, it does utilise the new chipset and "improved" Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500. While this is a better chip than its predecessors, that's kind of like saying a punch in the face is better than a poke in the eye: the X4500 managed a distinctly mediocre 19.9 FPS at the screen's native resolution of 1,280 x 800 with detail set to low in TrackMania Nations Forever.
Making up for this is a generous 3GB of RAM, which is the maximum the installed 32-bit Windows Vista Premium practically supports, and a capacious 320GB 5400RPM hard drive, meaning you shouldn't run out of space too quickly. Nor is there much to fault in internet or wireless connectivity, with Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.0 and WLAN 802.11g. Only Draft-N wireless is lacking but this would inevitably add to the price and it's an acceptable compromise at the price.