Despite being the HD standard now, adoption of Blu-ray on laptops is still far from ubiquitous. This is partly a cost concern, since Blu-ray drives still cost more than DVD, but also because most laptops are ill-equipped to take full advantage of high definition content due to small displays and resolutions. Samsung's R620 (NP-R620-FS02UK) doesn't eliminate all these issues, but its sub-£670 price could convince a few that a Blu-ray laptop is worth investing in.
While it's always been possible to find affordable Blu-ray laptops, one normally paid the price in another respect by suffering a slow processor, poor graphics or some other inconvenience. On paper, at least, the R620 doesn't fall into this trap. At its core is a more than capable Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 running at 2.1GHz, with 3GB of DDR2 RAM and a 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 in support. A 5,400rpm, 320GB hard drive provides ample storage capacity, while Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet are also included. Only Bluetooth is missing, but the R620 is hardly alone in omitting it at this price-point.
Connectivity is also very good. There are four USB ports in total, one of which doubles as an eSATA port and another that offers 'sleep & charge' ability - an increasingly vital addition. These are joined by all the usual suspects, including: VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks, a 54mm ExpressCard slot and a 3-in-1 memory card reader. One could quibble about the lack of another audio output or a digital one at that, but for the most part the R620 ticks all the right boxes here.
It's not the most exciting piece of design, though. Samsung has always been overly fond of glossy black plastic and while the excellent R522 corrected its ways, the R620 returns to old habits. As such it is very vulnerable to scratches and fingerprints, though at least the matt black bezel of the display reduces the glare-factor somewhat. One nice touch retained from the R522, however, is the rather fetching 'light ring' around the touchpad that lights up blue when you use it. Aside from this, though, the R620 is a solid but rather underwhelming thing to behold.
Still, as we've already outlined, the R620 offers excellent bang for your buck, making any aesthetic considerations considerably less important. What's probably more relevant is the build quality and ergonomics of this chassis, which are excellent. As a whole the system runs coolly and quietly, while the only build quality concern is the durability of its predominantly glossy finish.
It's the keyboard that really impresses, though. It has an excellent layout, with a full number pad giving the R620 proper desktop replacement credentials. We particularly like how there's an 'Fn' key by the cursor keys, making it much easier to use the brightness and volume controls mapped to them. This logical layout is married to keys that despite feeling a little thin and light offer a deep, positive action, making this an excellent machine to work on. A well-positioned touchpad with responsive buttons completes the package nicely.