Samsung R560 15.4in Notebook - Samsung R560

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

So far, there's little to explain this Samsung's relatively high compared to the plethora of sub-£500 notebook out there, but that changes when we get to the specifications. To be honest, it's pretty cool when you can list a 250GB hard drive and a Centrino 2 Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 processor (running at 2.0GHz with a 1066MHz FSB) as the least of a notebook's components.

Although you're unlikely to see much real-world benefit to the 4GB of RAM being 1066MHz DDR3 rather than the usual 800MHz DDR2, it's still rare at this kind of price point. Moreover, despite the 3GB practical limit imposed by the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Premium, having 4GB not only allows the memory to run optimally in dual-channel mode, but means you won't have to upgrade even if you switch to a 64-bit OS.

The icing on the cake is the R560's discrete graphics card; an NVidia GeForce 9600M GS with 256MB of DDR3 RAM. To be blunt, you won't get a great gaming experience on any notebook using less than a GeForce 8800/9800 series chip, but if you're willing to put up with a few compromises (or some major ones in the case of recent titles), the 9600 does a better job than anything you're likely to find under a grand.

Naturally, this is reflected in our TrackMania Nations Forever notebook benchmark, which this Samsung happily chomped through at 52.4FPS, with detail set to medium and at the screen's native 1,280 x 800 resolution. Even at very high quality and two samples of anti-aliasing enabled, the 9600M GS managed a (barely) playable rate of 18 FPS.

Of course, without a decent screen to see everything on, even the best graphics chip won't make a good entertainment system. This is another area where the R560 is quite strong, but only under certain conditions. Its 15.4 SuperBright LCD does an adequate job in greyscale differentiation (for a notebook panel), meaning you'll get a fair amount of dark detailing in films. There was no sign of banding or backlight bleed either and even at lower brightness levels colours are still vibrant, with sharp text being a nice bonus.

Unfortunately, these positives are tempered by one fairly major problem: they're only apparent from a very narrow 'ideal' viewing angle. If you don't angle the screen right, blacks become greyed over, and strong colour and contrast shift make for a far from pleasant entertainment experience. A high-gloss and incredibly reflective finish doesn't help matters, unless you're looking for a portable mirror.

danceswithhorses

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 !

TL1210

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.



TechVegan

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.

TL1210

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.?

danceswithhorses

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)

Beaky69

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.

BigBadDave

November 13, 2008, 9:43 pm

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

MrGodfrey

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!

MrGodfrey

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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