Happily, while the audio performance is pretty forgettable, the 15.6in screen is a little more promising. Colour fidelity is nothing outstanding and viewing angles are more or less the same as any other notebook display at this price, but thanks to its LED backlight, it’s very bright. This can be particularly advantageous in brightly lit environments, offsetting the reflectivity of the glossy high-contrast display somewhat.
Our only other point regarding the display is that, due to its 16:9 ratio, it has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 – meaning fewer vertical pixels than unusual. This has been a bone of contention for a little while now and we don’t see that changing, but neither can we see the trend toward 16:9 ratio displays disappearing. So, though there are still 16:10 notebooks out there, 16:9 appears to be the shape of things to come.
Few complaints, gaming aside, can be made of the R522’s performance. It’s not a speed demon in modern terms, but the 2.0GHz CPU offers plenty of processing power. Our only regret is that Samsung hasn’t opted to supply a 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium to match the 4GB RAM supplied. We’ve never understood why manufacturers don’t do this, especially given the price difference between 32-bit and 64-bit OS versions is fairly negligible these days.
For reference, we managed 22 frames per second in our Trackmania Nations benchmark, but at 1,366 x 768 we had to turn the settings down to the low quality preset, underlining the lack of gaming credentials.
Battery life, however, is very promising. In the multi-tasking Productivity benchmark the R522 achieved almost three and a half hours, increasing to four hours in the idle Reader test. In the high-intensity DVD test, meanwhile, the R522 returned two hours hours and 11 minutes of runtime – a figure that could be increased by reducing the brightness we run the test at.
Samsung’s latest mainstream notebook does lots of things well. It looks great, adding a little class and refinement to a sector better known for well-featured but prosaic machines. It also has a decent base spec, very good connectivity and excellent battery life. However, it is let down by truly dreadful speakers and the lack of both Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. These aren’t deal breakers, so if you can live without them the R522 is worth serious consideration, but they do preclude the R522 from an award.