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Samsung R560 15.4in Notebook review

Ardjuna Seghers



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Is it any wonder notebooks are taking over the world? Only a little while ago we looked at the Medion Akoya S5610, which won our Recommended Award by offering so much for so little. And though you can still get better-specified desktop systems for less money than the Akoya's £500 asking price, there is simply no comparing to the all-in-one convenience and portability of a notebook.

Samsung has always been a strong player in the value notebook market, also winning its fair share of awards on TR. At just over £650, its new R560 Notebook might not seem all that affordable, until you consider the impressive specifications this 15.4in machine brings to the table, including discrete nVidia 9600GS graphics.

It is part of Samsung's extensive Touch of Colour range, which in the case of notebooks gets you a band of colour across the palm-rest, visible whether the notebook is open or closed. For now, this means you'd better like red, since it's the only colour available and though we feel the implementation isn't nearly as subtle or attractive as on the company's LE32A656 32in LCD TV, many will still like the way it complements the rest of the R560's piano black chassis.

As ever, the glossy black finish is a fingerprint-magnet, so it's a good thing Samsung always provides a soft cleaning cloth. As long as you don't mind the high maintenance, it provides an attractive look.

Samsung's name is moulded in silver lettering on the lid, which works well against the shiny black. Opening the notebook up, it's aesthetically very similar to the previous Rose Red TOC notebooks we reviewed, the Q310 and the Q210. In fact, the only change is a silver trim that now separates the matte charcoal touchpad from its glossy black and red surroundings. This is complemented by a narrow silver strip above the keyboard and though combined they provide a little contrast, opinions in office were divided as to whether they were improvement over previous offerings.

Above the keyboard there's a dotted section, which does a good job of hiding the perforated speaker grills, while the power button sits flush with this section, glowing blue when the R560 is turned on. Likewise the activity indicators for hard drive or wireless activity and such are blue when active, easily visible from the notebook's front even with the lid closed. Surrounding the 15.4 inch screen is a matte screen bezel that will please many and this is matched by a matte keyboard, so at least you can't muddy the keyboard with your greasy fingers.

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November 12, 2008, 3:35 pm

'Its most significant competitor, however, is Medion's Akoya S5610'

That is incorrect because Medion have a newer laptop out.

Instead of choosing the samsung r560, i chose the better specced and cheaper Medion P6612.

AT 𧻼, with a newer 16" screen,p7350 processor,320gb hard disk,4gb ram,dvb-t tv tuner,blue tooth 2.0, wireless n, 3 usb, 1 esata/usb, 1 hdmi, laptop bag, usb mouse, 32 and 64 bit recovery cds, AND 3 years warranty.

Beat that !


November 12, 2008, 4:42 pm

That Medion offering does sound like good value but their brand is not very strong.. will they be trading in 3 years time?? That warranty will be worthless if they went under!

Personally, Id rather spend a bit more buying a product from an established brand with a proven track record of service, support, quality and reliability. The Samsung notebook may seem a little pricey at first glance but looking at the total cost of ownership, it is a much better proposition.

Also be wary of how they Medion can offer a notebook at such a low price.. what type of RAM are they using, what speed and make Hard disk, what panel etc.. the Samsung got a 9 for performance and the Medion Akoya S5610 only got 7.. I think that gives us a clue as to which notebook is better.


November 12, 2008, 7:13 pm

@danceswithhorses: Good point, but as it's not a notebook we've reviewed (nor does it look likely we'll get it in soon) I couldn't really compare.

@TL1210: LOL, Medion has been around for quite a while, and it's a huge international company with links to the likes of Aldi. So it's in fact a very well-established brand (especially in its native Germany), and unlikely to 'go under'.

It can offer such low prices because it IS huge - in terms of components they only use high-quality third-party stuff, and the low performance score was because of the somewhat poor battery life: some cost-cutting was inevitable, and the battery is what it went to with the S5610.

As a last point, I've owned a Medion desktop PC since 2001, and it's still working faithfully for my parents. It was also at least 𧷤 cheaper than any competing configurations at the time.


November 12, 2008, 7:38 pm

I still wouldn't feel completely comfortable buying a medion.. even if they are big in Germany.

Im surprised on how they can be fitting quality 3rd party parts to a low cost laptop, unless of course the strength of the Euro has something to do with it.?


November 12, 2008, 11:02 pm

TL1210 - Your choice my friend.

Medion are a german company, but sell their machines in USA, Australia, and all over Europe.

FYI this is my 4th Medion machine in 8 years - all have been excellent value and all are still in good working order (one at my mums, and 2 at work).

Also, there is an excellent independant aldi/medion support site set up by enthusiasts, where there are some knowledgable people who will help to sort out any problems you may have.

I think the inclision of a 3 year waranty on all their pcs sold through Aldi, should indicate to potential buyers, how confident Medion are about their machines :0)


November 13, 2008, 12:19 am

Just a couple of comments. Firstly, although a number-pad on a notebook might be advantageous for some, a major down-side is that when typing, one's hands are permanently off-centre & positioned toward the left side of the screen. Secondly, from what I gather, the main advantage of using DDR3 memory (aside from the negligible speed increase) in a notebook is the lower operating voltage, which has a consequential effect on battery life.


November 13, 2008, 9:43 pm

Medion are sold out of 6612s.....


January 22, 2009, 7:20 am

Thanks Ardjuna for this review, based on which (along with some other even more positive reviews) I've decided to order the R560. I nearly convinced myself the Medion S5610 was better value, but was put off by an apparent price increase since the review. The graphics card and possible benefit the extra (and better) RAM helped push me toward the R560, while I can live without e-Sata and S/PDIF (and presumably one of these connections could be added later via the ExpressCard slot). The Samsung's keyboard may not have the numberpad, but neither does it commit the crime against nature that is putting "Fn" where "Ctrl" should be. Finally, the R560 will match my rather lovely Samsung HDTV/monitor :D

OK, so at this point I'm clearly just trying to justify my purchase to myself. I'll post some first impressions when it arrives, but in the meantime can I ask about one area you didn't mention in the review: How much bloatware has it got and how useless is it? Cheers!


February 4, 2009, 7:50 pm

FWIW, I've had the R560 a couple of weeks now. I can answer my own question: Yes there is bloatware, but it's not as bad as many others and easy enough to uninstall. I actually spent more time trying to remove the horrible adhesive used to stick on the Vista label... why do manufacturers have to deface their own products like that?

Anyway it's a nice little machine, and battery power and management is good. I did have one problem after a couple of days: The DVD drive stopped reading discs! While this was disappointing, I can't fault Samsung or their UK repairers Digicare. Just under 48 hours after I called to report the problem and arrange pickup, it was back with a new drive fitted and tested. And credit due to UPS as well - this was during the snowfall which apparently broke the country. All companies occasionally make faulty products; more important to me is how they respond - top marks to Samsung there.

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