Samsung R410 review

Price when reviewed

With so much choice in a hugely crowded marketplace, there seems to be a laptop for everyone these days. The Samsung R410, though, sits in a niche that, as of yet, hasn’t been saturated – the 14in laptop. It’s a surprise as this laptop’s workaday 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution provides plenty of desktop space, while ensuring the chassis doesn’t get too cumbersome to carry.

Samsung R410 review

In fact, the whole package weighs in at a respectable 2.4kg. It’s heavier than some of its 12in and 13.3in-screened rivals – such as the Dell Vostro 1310 and Samsung Q45 – but lighter than some larger laptops that, while costing similar amounts, aren’t nearly as portable. The A-listed Dell Inspiron 1525, for instance, suffers for its 15.4in screen, weighing a comparatively portly 2.76kg.

Thankfully, the 14.1in panel is well up to scratch, even though it doesn’t match up to the quality of the finest laptop screens we’ve seen. The backlight bleeds through slightly at the bottom of the screen, for instance, and colours have a slight red hue, although in every day use it’s not that noticeable.

The build quality is also relatively good, despite the plasticky chassis. We had to put a fair amount of effort into bending the lid, and no amount of pressure we applied to the back of the screen could make it distort the desktop.

This quality extends to the keyboard area, which is a similarly flex-free zone. Extended typing sessions are comfortable too, as the buttons have plenty of travel and are sufficiently light. It’s also worth noting that the four arrow keys extend beyond the bottom edge of the keyboard, which allows for full-size return, backspace and right-shift keys – a concession to comfort and ease of use that many notebooks compromise on.

The R410 has a decent trackpad, too. It’s large and offers plenty of room for navigating around the screen, and the buttons are light and responsive – again making them comfortable to use.

The chassis continues this theme of decent build quality. The lid has the same glossy black finish that adorns Samsung’s monitors, which looks nice but is a horrendous fingerprint magnet, while the rest of the case is matte black plastic.

The Samsung certainly possesses an understated charm, but there are areas where it feels distinctly low budget – it’s missing features that rivals offer for similar prices. The Inspiron 1525 and Vostro 1310, for instance, both include a row of media buttons, which the Samsung does not, and both have more USB ports than the meagre three on offer here. The 1525 also includes an HDMI output and a mini-FireWire socket; the R410 lacks these luxuries.

The processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T5600 that runs at 1.83GHz, is complemented by a healthy 2GB of RAM, and delivers a 2D benchmark score of 0.95. It’s a solid result that will see the R410 handling most applications, bar intensive video editing, and beats most of its rivals – only the Vostro 1310, with a result of 1.03, scored higher.

The rest of the specification falls in line with what we’d expect from a value laptop, with only the hard disk standing out – it offers 320GB of storage, which is double that of the 1310, Q45 and 1525. The extra space is welcome, but frankly it’s overkill in a budget laptop. A smaller 160GB drive would have been ample, and may have saved a few pennies which might have been put to better use addressing some of the R410’s shortcomings.

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