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Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop review

Andy Vandervell

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  • Recommended by TR

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Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • Samsung R780 - 17.3in Laptop
  • R780 44 cm 17.3" LED Notebook - Core i5 i5-480M 2.66 GHz - Red (1600 x 900 WSXGA Display - 4 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD - DVD-Writer - ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 - Bluetooth - Webcam - Windows 7 Home Premium - HDMI)

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Great performance for the money
  • Good for gaming

Cons

  • Poor built-in speakers
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Average screen quality

Key Features

  • Intel Core i5-430M processor
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB
  • 17.3-inch 1,600 x 900 pixel display
  • GeForce GT 330M 1GB GPU
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £632.98

For many buying a laptop is really about not buying a desktop PC. That isn't to say such a laptop must be small, especially if all you need is the convenience of a computer that can move around the house without sacrificing too much performance. That's where the likes of the Samsung R780 come in. With a commanding 17.3in display the R780 is a genuine desktop replacement laptop, offering up plentiful processing power and a chassis that isn't at all cramped or difficult to use.

In design the R780 is more or less identical to the Samsung R580, but bigger. It has the same funky, holographic lid design and graduated black/red finish, a theme that's continued in principal (if not appearance) on the inside. It's a stylish eye-catching aesthetic that's further aided by Samsung's generally light touch - aside from the various patterns, the R780 isn't marred by too many fancy design quirks.

It's hard to have any quibbles with the specification either, particularly given that our version (the NP-R780-JS0BUK) includes a Blu-ray drive as well as all the usual bits and pieces. These include a nippy Intel Core i5-430M processor, with two cores running at 2.26GHz and sharing a 3MB cache. There's 4GB of DDR3 RAM too, though once again Samsung neglects to install a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium to make use of it all. A 500GB hard drive provides ample storage space.

Neither does Samsung skimp with the wired and wireless connectivity options. Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both included, as is Gigabit Ethernet for super-fast wired networking. A total of four USB ports, one of which supports eSATA and standby power charging, ensure you'll rarely be without a spare one. HDMI and VGA are present for video, there are two audio jacks (1x headphone, 1x microphone) and a 34mm ExpressCard slot should you need it. Only the addition of mini-FireWire could improve things markedly and it's not a connection many people use these days.

If there's an area where the R780 is open to criticism, however, it's the lack of a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution display. Instead you get a more mundane 1,600 x 900 pixels which, while adequate for productivity and comfortable to use for those short of sight, doesn't do great justice to HD content in films.

How great a problem this is depends on your outlook. If you're interested in the R780 specifically for watching Blu-ray films then it's a problem, but if Blu-ray is simply a "nice to have" then it might not matter so much. Moreover, if you have no interest in Blu-ray at all, there are various different specs available without it, one of which is otherwise identical to our review unit.

GoldenGuy

April 13, 2010, 3:59 pm

No, no, no. This is always an annoying cost-cutting measure. If you're gonna have a BD drive, then show all of it off with a 1080p display. Especially once you get to 17".

Chris Beach

April 13, 2010, 4:41 pm

tbh I quite like the fact that the res is not 1080p, it means the GPU would stand a better chance at driving games at native res. At the size, your not going to see the difference in the detail that 1080 would give anyways.

Jones

April 13, 2010, 6:17 pm

1080p on a 17" display makes little difference when watching movies. In fact, it makes little difference full stop really.

Gordon394

April 13, 2010, 6:23 pm

@Jones @cjb110 - it's not about gaming or movies, it's simply about having far more screen retail estate. Personally I couldn't live with anything less than 1920 x 1080 on a 17in screen. Then again, I can't live without 1680 x 1050 minimum on a 15in screen so I'm probably unusual!

GoldenGuy

April 13, 2010, 6:57 pm

I don't buy that you can't tell the difference - I've seen the 720p/1080p video difference with my own eyes. That's not boasting about fantastic eyesight either. It's simply because your head is pressed up against a computer display in a way that you probably don't do with regular television. At that distance, 17 and 18 inch displays may look just as big as when you're sitting on your couch across your room from a 32-50 inch telly.

Jones

April 13, 2010, 8:02 pm

I understand the "real estate" argument - just has never been an issue for me from a whole manner of perspectives from the home music production I do to with software like Sonar to the constant spreadsheet and accounts based production software like Sage I use at work, not to mention more basic funtionality in word processing and what not.





GoldenGuy, Im not sure what movies/videos you are watching but I just cant tell the difference - and my eyesight is excellent! I can imagine maybe the most recent movies like Star Trek or 2012 having some differences but the older films I tend to watch just wouldnt benefit much from the extra resolution.





Im a hypocrite anyway in that I have 1080p displays for my laptop and TV but I dont really see much of a difference from my older displays. Black and colour depths/brightness are more important to me as well as things such as how well the backlighting in laptop displays is. Id also argue that you dont see much of a difference in 720-1080p in TVs in the 40 inch display range either.





It comes down to use at the end of the day. I can imagine a higher resolution being a great benefit in certain uses but for every day use? It's not that big a deal to me.

Gordon394

April 13, 2010, 8:12 pm

@Jones - the screen real estate argument is simple: I need more space in order to have multiple windows open. Given that - in journalism - you pretty much live with a word processor open that's a hefty chunk of the screen gone.





That said, I can't see a lot of difference between 720p and 1080p content on a laptop - or even most TVs for that matter. I think other elements such as black levels and motion handling are far more important than resolution. Same goes for cameras and the ridiculous megapixel race.

Jones

April 13, 2010, 8:36 pm

@Gordon- I definately see where you are coming from from the journalism perspective and I agree that more resolution would make a huge difference in a working environment.





I cheated a little when at work. We use 15" laptops at all times and I complained about the native resolution being too tiny with larger resolutions looking blurry and got myself a monitor which I use as a second display. I suppose that's why I dont have big desktop/resolution issues at work then!!!

GoldenGuy

April 13, 2010, 9:48 pm

@Jones


Well speaking of examples, one of the best off the top of my head is where George Clooney is staring at a departures board in Up in the Air - there is a marked difference in the legibility of the destinations and times.





@Gordon


Sure lots more things matter besides resolution. If we're talking TVs then black levels (white levels too), consistent backlighting, motion blur handling and ***input lag*** {tap, tap, tap}...

Horace Coker

April 14, 2010, 1:26 am

I’m fairly sick and tired of hearing the term full HD for laptop and computer screen displays. Who the hell wants it? What I want is 8:5 aspect ratio (or 16:10 if you prefer) not 16:9! 8:5 aspect ratio is a much better option for the vast majority of folk who have no interest in watching Blu-ray movies on a laptop or desk top computer for that matter. (Great for a telly, I agree.) I blame the reviewers for pushing this format with the ghastly term ‘full HD’! For a computer screen, give me 1680x1050 or 1920x1200 any day of the week over so called ‘full HD’. For a start 3:2 photos don’t actually fill a 16:10 screen but they look a sight better than they do on a 16:9 screen! There are umpteen other reasons why 16:10 is a good compromise between the old 4:3 and 16:9.





And another thing nobody ever seems to mention – a friend of mine recently demonstrated his all singing all dancing new ‘full HD’ telly with a Blu-ray movie that was shot in cinemascope aspect ratio (21:9) and there was massive black portions at the top and bottom of the telly - what’s all that about? Lots of DVD and Blu-ray films seem to be in this mindless format! A complete waste of real estate on a 16:9 telly!





By the way a little bird told me that Samsung have realised their mistake and are in the process of bringing out Windows 7 64-bit models of the R580 and R780 later this month, so I’d hang fire and wait till you can actually use all that 4GB of ram!

Gordon394

April 14, 2010, 1:48 am

@Horace - probably best not tell you the Philips Cinema 21:9 (http://www.trustedreviews.com/... is expected to lead to laptops adopting that aspect ratio too!

Tony Walker

April 14, 2010, 2:56 am

Must post about the keyboard.





Very mushy compared with Apple and Sony keyboards. Check it before yu buy if this is importand to you.





From your friendly neighbourhood keyboard fascist.

betelgeus

April 14, 2010, 3:49 am

horace have you been living in a cave? the black bars are there to match the original aspect the film was shot in,you can easily change the aspect ratio or zoom on the tv,of course the picture will now fill the screen but both ends are chopped off,its up to the individual presonally i prefer the black bars as i see the film how it was shot.





the problem isnt the dvd format but the complete lack of 2.35:1 screens.

GoldenGuy

April 14, 2010, 6:30 am

@Horace Coker





Well I don't think I'm alone in mulling over the frustrations of Apple's increasingly vibrant displays alongside its prolonged dismissal of Blu-Ray. I'd love to watch BDs on my MacBook. 16:10 is the MacBook's ratio of choice, and because I do watch and edit quite a lot of video, I find it a slight annoyance (though cropping to fit is usually minimal and just fine) but I agree with you on it being the best compromise for web browsing and productivity with the extra height.





I really thought it was gonna be the ratio of choice for the iPad, following the form factor of the Touch and iPhone (but where you vary the bezel width accordingly to make the iPad more square). Don't you think 4:3 on the iPad still seems to bit odd and old school? And notice the significant difference when they were demoing zooming on a 1.85:1 film like Up (just passable) and a 2:35:1 film like Star Trek (total mess)?

Gordon394

April 14, 2010, 8:15 am

@betelgeus - see my comment above (21:9 may not be a perfect 2.35:1, but it displays this content flawlessly

GoldenGuy

April 14, 2010, 2:40 pm

@Gordon





Yeah, I've never seen one of those 21:9 (approx.) sets in the flesh, so to speak, but I can completely understand that there is an inexplicable satisfaction with a picture filling an entire screen, and seeing that with a big 2.35:1 blockbuster movie would look fantastic.





If you are going to have black bars to maintain the aspect ratio, then I'd rather they were large like an anamorphic movie on a 16:9 set. It's those small ones like on a 16:10 set where the picture only doesn't quite fit, that irritate the eye. I guess it's a trade off - if the bars are minimal, then cropping won't damage the picture much; if the bars are large, they can look very cinematic but cropping is gonna chop people's heads in half (e.g.; Star Trek on an iPad).

Tony Walker

April 15, 2010, 12:35 am

2nd attempt at a comment on this item.





The keyboard is mushy when compared to an Apple or Sony keyboard of this type. Try it before you buy if this is important to you.

Tony Walker

April 15, 2010, 4:13 am

The keyboard is mushy when compared to an Apple or Sony keyboard of this type. Try it before you buy if this is important to you.

damo 1

September 15, 2010, 1:52 pm

I've been using this laptop for a few months now. I find the trackpad infuriating. It is an obvious attempt to copy the Macbook user experience but fails badly. The two fingered scroll is hit and miss and the source of much frustration. It is very easy to touch the pad with the lower part of your hand while typing causing the cursor to jump to another part of the screen. I've had MANY docs ruined by the cursor jumping back halfway through whatever I was composing.


Further I find the screen viewing angle rather narrow. I compare it to my macbook which was only slightly more expensive.


The battery is woefully inadequate especially for a screen of this size. Do not even consider taking this laptop on a plane. If you're not near a power supply you will be frustrated sooner rather than later.


Samsung's own interface touches are ok but a little annoying when for eg adjustment of volume or brightness obscures the screen. Unfortunately if you leave it on for more than a day or so it slows down and does not have the speed to even adjust volume quickly.


My scores:


Battery: 4/10


Design: 6/10. Ok if it's your thing.


Features: 5/10. It's no good giving something features if they don't work well or haven't been thoroughly tested (not for human use anyway)


Performance: 6/10. not good enough for W7 which is what it comes with. SLOW start up it slows down more if left on.


Value: 6/10. The purchase price is ok but that is not the same thing as value.


Overall

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