Review Price £391.85
Overall build quality on Samsung's R530 is decent enough. There's just a hint of creak and unwanted flex, but certainly nothing to cause alarm. It should stand up well to daily use.
Though it feels slightly slippery and a tad cheap, the recessed keyboard is mostly a pleasure to type on. The tile-style keys offer crisp feedback with a decent amount of travel, and the layout is truly excellent, with everything where you'd expect it to be. There's a full number pad, too, which is a useful addition for day-to-day use.
One feature that distinguishes Samsung laptop keyboards over the competition is that they include a secondary Fn key near the volume and brightness controls on its directional pad, uniquely allowing for one-handed adjustments. It might be a small detail, but the added convenience can be significant.
Below this, the touchpad is outlined by a thin blue LED frame, allowing for visibility in a dark environment and adding a nice style touch. Though again, while this blue lighting matches the power button's tiny blue LED, it's rather inconsistent with the R530's red lid.
Much like the keyboard, there's little to dislike about the multi-touch touchpad. In general use it is responsive and its smooth surface quite pleasant, while the well-placed buttons below it offer good, if noisy, feedback. The pad is perhaps a little on the small side to get the full benefits of multi-touch and doesn't always respond to more complex gestures like image-rotate, but it's certainly adequate for things like pinch-to-zoom.
Getting onto audio, we're back to average. Despite their SRS Surround processing, the 1.5W speakers don't hold up to close scrutiny: their maximum volume level isn't impressive yet still prone to distortion, while mid-tones lack clarity and bass is conspicuous only by its absence. They're not bad as such but you're better off using respectable headphones.
Unfortunately the R530's 15.6in, 1,366 x 768 (HD Ready) screen features the same glossy finish that adorns most laptop displays, causing occasionally distracting reflections in well-lit environments. Also like most competitors, colours aren't particularly accurate and greyscale performance is poor, and due to strong vertical contrast shift will depend very much on the extent to which you tilt the screen.
When tilted at the right angle, though, you'll be able to see quite a bit of detail in dark films - especially since the horizontal viewing angles are good by budget laptop standards, further aided by a lack of backlight bleed. We had no problems reading even small text thanks to its excellent sharpness, which was also borne out by plenty of detail in HD video.