Recently at LAPTOP Magazine we took Samsung to task on their notebook designs because, while the look is solid, everything from 15-inchers to netbooks were very same-y. Boy, did they turn that one around. The new R Series notebooks feature Samsung’s Touch of Color design, a blend of deep, blood red and black in a Crystal Wave pattern that makes the laptops pop but doesn’t overwhelm. These notebooks won’t have you hiding them in a sleeve for sure.

We just reviewed two of the notebooks in the line: the Samsung R780, a 17-inch powerhouse, and the Samsung R580, a 15-inch multimedia machine. Aside from looking good, are these laptops worth having?

The 17.3-inch Samsung R780 is a desktop replacement model, so you’re not likely to carry it around. But if you do, it won’t break your back. At just 6.4 pounds the R780 feels lighter than it should and has a nice sleek look with tapered edges and streamlining cuts on the corners.

The keyboard and touchpad – the most important parts of any laptop, right? – are both excellent. The keys are well-spaced, in all the right places, and springy, so you can type as fast as you want and it won’t slow you down. The touchpad is big, and even though it’s the same color and pattern as the rest of the laptop you can tell the difference between the pad and the wrist rest because it’s a little rough.

The big screen is perfect for watching movies or TV on Hulu and for games. Yes folks, this laptop can handle some games. And HD. Also, if you’re a creative professional you’ll appreciate all the space you have for editing pictures or websites or video. And with the Core i5 processor inside the R780 can definitely handle all of that. The 1 gig of graphics memory for the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M GPU doesn’t hurt, either.

Of course, not everyone needs a big old 17-inch laptop, especially if you want to be mobile. The 15.6-inch Samsung R580 is likely to be more your style, then. However, this smaller model is also less powerful.

You’ll get the same design with this laptop. And since the screen has a 16:9 widescreen ratio, you won’t have to give up the full-size keyboard and number pad. The main keyboard is the same size and quality as the R780, but the number pad is a bit smaller. Same good touchpad, too.

The screen is still beautiful and offers plenty of space to work with, and though it’s not full HD, you’ll still be able to enjoy your Hulu or other streaming media no problem.

However, there are some drawbacks. Like I said, performance isn’t as good on R580 partially because it has a less powerful graphics card. Games still play okay – especially graphics intense ones like MMORPGs – and this model has a Blu-ray. Unfortunately, because of the resolution and GPU, the images don’t look as smooth as they should.

My advice is to grab the Samsung R780 if it’s not too big for your lifestyle. It costs just $799 at Best Buy, which is a real deal for something this good. But the Samsung R580 won’t do you wrong if you’re looking for a decent, everyday computer. But at $829 (Best Buy again) it’s more expensive.

Want the full rundown on both of these laptops? Then head over to LAPTOP Magazine for image galleries, benchmark tests (including battery life), and comparisons to other notebooks found in the full reviews of the Samsung R780 and Samsung R580.


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