If you're after a good value, well-made laptop, a Samsung is always worth looking at. Today we're looking at the R580, a 15.6in desktop replacement laptop, which is among a slew of new laptops using one of Intel's new Core i3 processors meant to replace the Core 2 Duos of old for mainstream machines around the £500 to £600 mark.
There are two versions of the R580 currently on sale and we're reviewing the more expensive of the two, the R580-JS02UK. Both use the same Intel Core i3-330M processor, which runs at 2.13GHz with 3MB L2 Cache, and a 512MB nVidia GeForce 310M graphics card. But while our model backs this up with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive and £580 asking price, the cheaper JS03UK has 3GB of RAM and a 320GB and can be had for around £525.
In most other respects, though, the two are identical and since Samsung neglects to install a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, despite including 4GB of RAM, the two should perform similarly. Other specs for both include Wireless-N Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, which cover all the basics you'd want at this price.
Upon opening the box the first impression of the R580 is of its striking dark red and black graduated lid. This, it appears, is a return to the 'touch of colour' theme that Samsung flirted with a year or so ago, only to drop it due to the somewhat unrefined appearance. Clearly the Koreans have cracked it, however, since the finish on the R580 - infused with swirly patterns - looks the business. Samsung also reckons this glossy plastic finish is more scratch resistant. We can easily believe this, our model hasn't been scuffed in our time with it, but it can do nothing to prevent the usual fingerprints and smudges.
This theme is continued on the inside of the machine, though with slightly less subtlety. It still looks good, though, particularly when matched with the matt black screen bezel and minimalist design. Samsung has always taken a less is more approach to laptop to design, which is fine with us.
Build quality, as is normally the case with Samsung laptops, is more or less faultless. Sturdy hinges and good quality plastics provide plenty of reassurance, but our model did suffer from a slightly uneven base - the front left rubber foot not making contact on a flat desk. This is a little irritating, but we'd be surprised if the problem is widespread.