This isn’t to say, though, that there aren’t some disappointments. One notable area of weakness is the speakers. Not only are they not very powerful and somewhat tinny, they’re also housed underneath the notebook so they output into the desk, or whatever surfaces the machine happens to be sitting on at the time. It seems as though these were something of an afterthought for Samsung, not to mention a useful cost reducing feature. It would also be nice to see features such as media controls and a hardware switch for wireless radios, often staples even in budget offerings.
Still, these are relatively small complaints and though overall performance is fairly pedestrian by modern standards, it’s solid enough and only really struggles at highly intensive tasks, such as the batch image editing of our in-house Photoshop Elements test and video encoding in Virtual Dub, which the target market won’t be performing.
Moreover, though raw performance is fairly unspectacular, battery performance is surprisingly decent given the size of the screen – typically the most draining aspect of any notebook. In the Productivity Suite it managed a creditable two hours and 56 minutes, while in the lower intensity Reader test it easily passed three hours by 18 minutes. Both results compared favourably to our comparison machines, the Dell XPS M1530 and HP Pavilion dv2699, both whom used smaller and likely less power hungry screens.
Better still was the DVD Playback result, which ended three minutes past two hours at maximum brightness setting. This was actually higher than both the comparison machines and should be good enough for watching a medium length film on battery, while reducing the brightness to an acceptable level would give you further head room. In any case, even if you’re just moving around the house, the R700 is frugal enough to be used for a decent amount of time before plugging back in.
Though the R700 is by no means feature rich or high performance, it has all the right features and good enough performance to make it a very attractive proposition at this price. A capacious 250GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM means it ticks along nicely, while HDMI output isn’t a luxury you won’t find on too many “budget” notebooks. Its decent battery performance is just the icing on the cake and an excellent keyboard and deceptively slim design add further to its value and appeal.