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By Tom Manners 11 June 2010

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At present the notebook market is literally teeming with entry-level machines from countless manufacturers, all of which are vying for the public’s attention. This has made it even harder for impressive, affordable notebooks to get the attention they deserve.
Among these is Samsung’s recently released R580, which is essentially an entry-level media centre with a little extra kick.
Processing power
In terms of features Samsung has outfitted the R580 with Intel’s new Core i3 M330 processor which runs at an impressive stock frequency of 2.13 GHz. Until recently, finding a machine at this price level which sported anything other than a dated dual core which clocked in at 1.6GHz – 1.8GHz was near on impossible. Although the i3 is also dual core, it also supports hyperthreading and is based on a 45nm manufacture process, all of which add to the R580’s overall appeal.
Supporting this is 4GB of DDR3 RAM, yet another impressive addition to a notebook within this price range.
Impressive graphics
Graphically speaking the R580 also performs well with a dedicated Nvidia GPU set up which also incorporates the company’s CUDA architecture. 3D gaming support is also included, but requires the purchase of Nvidia’s 3D vision emitter and headset before use.
The 15.6 LED backlit screen also supports 16:9 widescreen and features a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768. Despite a glossy TFT coating, reflections are also minimal which makes usage easier in brightly lit conditions.
Physically speaking...
Physically speaking the R580 follows in the footsteps of its Samsung brethren; it is really visually appealing and incorporates a glossy black and red finish, which covers the screen and surrounds the keyboard. One can see why the average consumer, who may be looking for a usable yet attractive notebook, would find the R580 a worthwhile candidate.
Unfortunately the unit is slightly too large for travel usage, as it features extensive bevelling around its perimeter. In this case we can’t help but thinking that Samsung opted for style over ease of use with regards to the mobile nature of office workers today. Nonetheless it weighs in at an impressively light 2.5 kg which, when combined with a respectable battery life, makes it perfect for home and office usage.
This is however tarnished by the fact that Samsung chose not to distinguish the mouse track pad from the rest of the notebook body. This means that users are required to run their fingers over a highly glossy surface when scrolling, which, in hot conditions, can become very difficult.
Features
In terms of additional features the R580 includes an impressive 500 GB hard drive which, upon first usage, can be portioned according to user preference. It also includes 802.11 Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet support, an eSATA port, four USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI out and VGA connection.
Conclusion
Although we have some complaints about the R580, no notebook is absolutely perfect. Overall it packs a punch in terms of performance and overall appeal which consumers in the entry-level market would struggle to better.
Price at Phase2 Computers - R9576 (incl VAT), call 011-444-2347 for more information.
PROS
Overall features are more than one would expect from a entry level notebook.
CONS
Slightly too large for regular travel.
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