Samsung’s P580 comes with a docking port, which through the company’s docking station adds extra microphone and headphone jacks, five USB ports, eSATA, serial, PS/2, digital and analogue video with optional DisplayPort, Ethernet and a power connector.
Mind you, you may not need its docking station since the laptop itself offers all the basics, including two USB 2.0 ports on each side (unfortunately stuck too close together for some of the ‘fatter’ memory sticks), one of which doubles as eSATA and another offering Sleep & Charge.
There’s the usual complement of VGA and HDMI for video, with 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks taking care of both analogue and digital audio. There’s a memory card reader for SD/HC and MMC, a DVD rewriter, Gigabit Ethernet and even a serial port hidden behind a rubber flap for legacy devices.
Finally we have Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 2.1 for wireless connectivity. Unusually for a business-oriented machine there’s no dedicated wireless switch, but – unlike the more jarring omission of an ExpressCard slot – that’s easy enough to forgive considering there’s a keyboard shortcut.
Speaking of the keyboard, it looks identical to that found on the X520 but thankfully doesn’t suffer from the looseness that marred that machine. Keys are large, well spaced and offer good feedback, with crisp action and a decent amount of travel. Layout is superb, with brightness and volume shortcuts on the cursor keys and a secondary function key just above these, making single-handed shortcut operation a doddle.
Likewise, the slightly recessed touchpad is a pleasure to use. Its position means it doesn’t interfere with typing, its smooth surface is pleasant and multi-touch works without issue. Though they feel like the flimsiest part of the P580, the touchpad’s separate buttons are easy to press and offer a distinct click.
As you would expect from a ‘serious’ laptop, the 15.6in screen features a matt layer rather than the glossy reflection magnets that adorn many consumer laptops. This does result in lower perceived contrast and colours coming across as duller, but especially for business users the trade-off is more than worth it. Resolution is a fairly standard 1,366 x 768.
Image quality is average overall. Viewing angles are mediocre, though this could be considered a ‘privacy feature’. Detail at the darker end of the scale is good but at the cost of white differentiation, which is a common compromise. Combined with uniform backlighting and no noticeable sign of bleed, films are shown off reasonably well – as long as the screen is positioned ideally. Our only other complaint is minor banding which won’t be visible in the majority of scenarios. Excellent sharpness means even small fonts remain legible.
Much like that of its display, the P580’s audio performance is run of the mill. The speakers manage a decent volume level with adequate detail in the high end, but lack of bass means explosions and bass-heavy tracks are on the tinny side. It’s definitely usable but you’ll still get a better entertainment experience from headphones or separate speakers.