Samsung NP-R60FY05 review

£485
Price when reviewed

It looks as if producers of value laptops are going to have their work cut out beating the lovely Asus Eee PC for sheer portability and value for money. But there’s plenty a low-cost machine like Samsung’s R60 Plus can offer that the Eee cannot.

Samsung NP-R60FY05 review

If all you want to do is tap out emails, browse the web and write the odd document, nothing can touch the tiny Eee. But for more serious tasks that need a higher resolution screen, an optical drive, many gigabytes of storage and Windows-based software, you still need a full-blown laptop.

First impressions are good. Samsung has a tradition of producing solidly built, good-looking portables and the R60 Plus is no different. The glossy black lid, chiselled edges and corners and matte-black plastic lower portion go together to create a smart yet understated look – it’s a laptop that wouldn’t be out of place in the office or the home. Samsung’s boast of “fusing style and value” is certainly not misplaced, and for the money you’d be hard pushed to find a nicer-looking machine.

It isn’t all about looks, either, and its build quality suggests this is a machine built to last. The chassis feels solidly made with sturdy plastics where it counts. The laptop lid, hinge and latch – areas that are often compromised in a budget laptop – all feel satisfyingly well-made. It weighs in at a not particularly light 2.65kg, but if you can stomach the weight and the bulk (it isn’t the slimmest machine at 43mm at its thickest point), it will take being dragged along on your daily commute comfortably in its stride.

One of the principal reasons for the R60 Plus’ heft, of course, is its screen. You do get plenty of benefit for your aching shoulder, though. Its glossy finish catches the odd reflection, but quality is up there with the better laptop screens we’ve seen. It’s bright and vibrant, while vertical and horizontal viewing angles are good; an impressive feat at this price. The only disappointment is its lowly 1,280 x 800 resolution, but this is standard for its class.

The keyboard is just as good. Most of the major keys are in the correct positions, barring Ctrl and Fn being swapped in the bottom-left corner, and they’re mostly of a decent size. More importantly, the positive key action makes it a pleasure to type on. The touchpad and its associated buttons, so often neglected on budget machines, are likewise beyond reproach.

We’d like to say we thoroughly tested Samsung’s claim that the keyboard is coated in a special antibacterial powder, but alas the PC Pro benchmark tool cupboard doesn’t include swabs, Petri dishes and powerful microscopes.

What we can say, though, is that compromises have been made, and these manifest themselves in a distinct lack of niceties. There’s no digital video output, just a D-SUB VGA, so it isn’t ideal for use as a media-centre machine. You don’t get FireWire or Bluetooth, wireless is only 802.11g (not draft-n) and the built-in flash card reader is restricted to two formats – SD and MMC.

Core componentry is good for the money – there’s 2GB of RAM, which isn’t a luxury budget laptops always offer – and you get halfway decent graphics in the shape of ATi’s Radeon Express 1250 chipset with 256MB of dedicated memory. But the rest isn’t overly generous. The R60 Plus is equipped with a 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450 processor and the hard disk capacity is a limited 120GB.

In comparison, the Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S, a similar proposition, offers 200GB of storage and a 2GHz processor, all for only £80 more.

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