You also get Gigabit Ethernet, though unsurprisingly you don’t get Draft N wireless, just regular Intel Pro Wireless 802.11 b/g. This should be fine for most people’s needs, but it rules out streaming high definition video content wirelessly. Meanwhile, a 7-in-1 memory card reader supporting, MMC, High Speed MMC, SD, SDHC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro and xD card formats means you should have no problems fetching images or video from any digital camera or camcorder – an underestimated but important feature for any desktop replacement.
Connectivity is pretty strong, too. Along with the HDMI output you get a D-SUB output as an analogue video output, good for PC monitors and TVs as well if you have no spare HDMI ports. Four USB ports matches what you’d demand on a notebook this size, while you also get all the staples such as headphone and microphone jacks, Ethernet and modem ports, a 54mm Express Card slot and a 1.3 Megapixel camera.
There are some notable absentees, however. There’s no Bluetooth on-board or FireWire either, which means you’d have a tough time pulling content from a DV or HDV digital camcorder. On the plus side, the 8x DVD+/-RW drive has LightScribe support, which allows you to burn your own labels onto the disc. It’s a small thing, but a nice addition to any consumer focussed machine.
As is the software provided, which includes Samsung’s own ‘Easy’ branded battery, network and display management software, Cyberlink Power DVD, Microsoft Works 8.0 and a 60 day trial of Office 2007. All of this, including Samsung’s own software, works well and with McAfee Virus Scan thrown in as well, the R700 comes equipped with everything you really need to plug in and start using straightaway.
And, when you do begin to use the R700, you’ll come to appreciate one of the greatest aspects of the R700: its keyboard. Now, before I go on to explain why it’s so good, it’s worth remembering that Samsung is still committing one of the cardinal sins of keyboard design by placing the Fn key to the left of the Ctrl key, but despite this the R700’s keyboard is truly excellent.
For starters, aberration excepted, the layout is really good. Despite the inclusion of a numeric key pad it’s not at all cramped, proving roomy and without any obvious compromise. Cursor keys are nicely withdrawn out of way and each section of the keyboards is slightly separated. Vitally, though, the keys themselves feel firm, crisp and responsive, aiding fast and accurate typing. Likewise, a well proportioned touchpad combines to create a great user experience.