As a desktop replacement, the R580 fits the bill as a budget-level wide-screen unit.  It's stylish, grunty and lightweight but has poor screen resolution and attracts fingerprints like you wouldn't believe.

It appears that there are a variety of subtle variants of this model with variations particularly on the processor and the graphics.  The model reviewed is the Samsung NP-R580-JS02AU **, with an Intel Core i5 processor and an nVidia GeForce GT330M video system.

The R580 is a lightweight unit in subtle dark red livery.  It weighs around 2.5kg; but this weight gives us a trade-off.  In order to achieve this weight, the unit is made from a light-weight plastic and because of this, there is probably more flex in the chassis (and particularly the screen) than would be preferred.

The unit is supplied with a 15.6" screen and the 1GB GeForce GT330M as mentioned earlier.  This is great for mobile game-play and also as a media centre via the included HDMI port.  Unfortunately, the screen has a resolution of only 1366 x 768 pixels - rather low for a modern laptop of this size, so owners would definitely want to use an external TV in this situation.

With 4GB RAM, a 500GB hard disk and the power of 4 CPU cores in the i5 package, the machine is no slouch, in fact according to the performance measures built into Windows 7, the Processor and graphics outperform the disk access; exceeded only by the RAM read-write results.

Along with all the expected ports, the R580 has 4 USB sockets, one of which doubles service as a SATA port; in addition, another USB port provides power to charge external devices even when the computer is fully powered down.

There are a couple of downsides to this unit.  When iTWire received the review unit, there were a large number of finger smudges; our limited use for testing did nothing to reduce them - we hope that we don't get added to some biometric database!  The other negative is the battery life, although the 2 ½ - 3 hours is reasonably typical for machines of this type.

The R580 is available from a variety of stores for a recommended retail price of $AU1,399.  Would I buy one?  I'd certainly consider it.

** Note that the reduced-specification version has an Intel Core i3 and the 512MB GeForce 310M for an RRP of $1,099.


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