Connectivity is thorough, including all the things normal users will need and one or two nice extras. Both VGA and HDMI are on offer, as are a total of four USB ports – one of which doubles as an eSATA port. You get just the two audio jacks (one headphone, one microphone), but you do get an increasingly rare ExpressCard slot (34mm) and the more ubiquitous multi-format card reader. One of the USB ports also supports USB standby power, so will charge compatible devices even when the laptop is turned off.
Samsung can generally be relied upon to offer a decent keyboard and the R580 reinforces this reputation. It’s another of the increasingly common isolation/chiclet keyboards and Samsung has squeezed in a number pad as well. Key actions are very light and precise, which combined with a good layout makes it easy to develop a nice, rapid typing speed.
Our only concern regarding typing on the R580 actually relates to the touchpad, which is positioned a little too much to the right. Occasionally we found it caused us to jog the cursor when typing, a problem that was improved (not removed) by pushing the ‘Palm Check’ feature of the touchpad driver to its maximum setting.
As for the touchpad itself, it’s very good. It’s almost seamlessly integrated into the body of the machine, with the glossy finish switching to a smooth, low-friction area for the touchpad. To further accentuate the difference, the touchpad has four blue LEDs (one on each corner) that light up when you use the pad. Its two buttons, which form one rocker switch, offer good, defined feedback. Multi-touch support is included, which among other things allows for convenient two-finger scrolling.
When spending this kind of money, one rarely expects great things from the display. This is true of the R580, but for the money it is pretty good – colours are good, text is sharp and it’s more than bright enough for normal indoor conditions. Viewing angles, while not prodigious, are better than we’ve seen in some cheaper laptops, so two or three people can view it at once without too many problems.
Unfortunately Samsung continues to use fairly dreadful speakers. While the stereo speakers reach decent volumes, for a full-size laptop they don’t produce the richness and depth one would like. As such, while okay for online clips and such like, for music and films they’re far from suitable.