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.