Though we're often keen to extol the virtues of prohibitively expensive ultra-portable notebooks, what many people actually want is a large, affordable but attractive alternative to a fully fledged Desktop PC. It's this desire after all, not the sleek lines of a Sony TZ, which has driven the growth of the notebook market and decline of the desktop market and the Samsung R700 (model no. NP-R700-A003UK) is a perfect example of this.
Retailing for around the £560 mark, it doesn't claim to do anything particularly special. It can't harp on about a high resolution screen or bleeding edge security and it doesn't feature a Blu-ray drive, but it does have HDMI output and as a whole it's a well put together and very well balanced machine at a price that's almost too good to resist.
From a design aspect, for a 17in notebook it's surprisingly slim and light. It weighs a manageable 3.18kg and has a wedge shaped design, measuring 39.8mm at its thickest and 29.7mm at its thinnest point and though this variation may seem something of a cheat, it does make the R700 look and feel quite slim for its size. This is aided, of course, by the ubiquitous all-black finish found on all of Samsung's notebook offerings, with an attractive glossy lid and matte black internals. This styling certainly lends the R700 a sleek and stylish appearance and unlike some machines, it's a look that's almost universally appealing.
Another thing that's glossy is the screen, which is 17in wide diagonally with a typically standard 1,440 x 900 resolution. Naturally this makes it somewhat reflective, but also serves to enhance black levels and colour vibrancy, though only to a moderate degree. Nonetheless, for the price the display on the R700 is really very good. It's bright and sharp and though the blacks never exceed mediocre levels, there's very little to complain about.
Likewise, for the price, you get a handsome and well considered specification. At the heart of it all is an Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, which runs at 1.66GHz with an 667MHz Front Side Bus and 2Mb L2 Cache. It's one of the more entry level CPUs in the Intel line-up, but still boasts important Santa Rosa features that improve power management and therefore battery life. This is supported by 2GB worth of 667MHz RAM and a generous 250GB 5400rpm SATA HDD, providing enough space for most requirements.
For graphics you get a 128MB nVidia 8400M GS, which is no powerhouse but does the job and will allow you to play fairly basic games such as World of Warcraft or The Sims without too much trouble. Moreover, as already mentioned, you go get an HDMI output, an increasingly important feature for any notebook, especially if it has any pretensions to being a desktop replacement.