Samsung Aura R70

Like the R20 before it, the R70 really doesn’t look like a budget notebook. The glossy black lid really does look the business, and is sure to complement your Heals décor, when sitting on your cast iron and glass desk. Opening the R70 reveals an inside that doesn’t quite live up to the piano black lid, but is slightly less underwhelming than the R20 was – basically there are no Artex type swirls like the ones that ruined the internal aesthetics of the R20. The inside is finished in matt black and has a suitably minimalist look to it, the matt bezel also highlights the glossy black screen.

Talking of the screen, this is a 15.4in affair with a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 – there will be a 1,680 x 1,050 option available, but the initial retail products will sport the lower resolution. Whether or not you like glossy coatings on your notebook screen is very much a matter of personal taste, but I generally like them. In fact Vista really benefits from a glossy screen, since the vivid colours and translucent desktop windows literally burst forth from the screen. Video looked particularly good on the R70, although you do need to be looking directly at it to get the best results.

Video playback is helped by the fact that Samsung has equipped the R70 with nVidia’s latest mobile graphics chipsets. The review unit came with a GeForce 8400M GS chipset, which is one step up from the base level 8400M G, giving it 16 stream processors as opposed to eight. Unfortunately the GS shares the same 64-bit memory bus as its lower ranked sibling, so don’t expect massive gaming performance. The 8400M GS that shipped in the R70 sample only had 128MB of dedicated graphics memory although the chipset can support up to 256MB. Samsung did however configure the 8400M GS to grab 256MB of Turbo Cache shared memory as well though.

But it’s not the gaming prowess of nVidia’s graphics chip that’s really important here, it’s the Pure Video HD processing, which should make the best of not only the excellent internal screen, but also give you the best possible image quality when you’re outputting to your HDTV. You see the R70 also comes equipped with an HDCP compliant HDMI port as standard, so this notebook is ideally suited to be your living room entertainment hub as well as your mobile entertainment platform. Of particular note is that Pure Video HD will completely offload h.264 HD decoding to the graphics chip, leaving your CPU happily twiddling its thumbs, and considering that there will be a version of the R70 with a Blu-ray drive later in the year, that’s a pretty attractive feature.

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