The R510’s LCD screen is surprisingly good, especially for a notebook at this price point. It’s quite accomplished at distinguishing grey shades, coming close to some of the better desktop LCD monitors. It’s sharp and clear, with barely noticeable backlight bleed and no banding across colour-tone ramps. Horizontal viewing angles are excellent despite the reflective coating and though vertical ones are poor, you can easily tilt the display to counteract this. Meanwhile, the 1,280 x 800 resolution, though a little restrictive, is pretty standard at this size and price point.
Regrettably the speakers are less accomplished and as usual you’re far better off using even cheap headphones – we still haven’t encountered a budget notebook that comes close to matching the superb speakers on the Satellite A300-177. However, though bass produces noise more akin to hitting a tin with a fork, the notebook’s audio talents are adequate for voice conversations and light music.
In terms of performance, the R510 naturally powers through almost anything that’s not graphically intensive and manages to throw some impressive battery life into the bargain. It’s roughly the same price as Samsung’s previous R60+, while beating it in every respect. In fact, it’s a very good value notebook all around.
The only thing that comes close is the Dell Inspiron 1525, which offers similar specifications for just a few pounds more. Which one you go for depends to some extent on personal taste, though we’d be tempted to go for the Dell thanks to the slightly slimmer chassis and more customisation options.
Samsung has produced an excellent mid-range notebook in the R510-FAA4UK, with a simple yet nice design and some great features for a very affordable price. But though it is a bargain, it’s not necessarily the only or best one, and you’ll want to check around before buying.
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