Samsung R70 Review

by minxshin Reads (50,050)

Overview and Introduction

Samsung is not a newcomer when it comes to building quality electronic devices, including laptops. Even though the sale of Samsung laptops is not allowed in the U.S, Samsung continues to be a powerhouse everywhere else in the world. The Samsung NT-R70A/W201 is a significant update to the NT-R55 series mainly because of the inclusion of the new Santa Rosa platform, the new NVIDIA 8x00M graphics chip that fully supports DirectX 10, and an HDMi port that outputs at full 1080p with uncompressed 7.1 HD audio.

The full specifications are:

  • Processor: Intel T7300 Core 2 Duo (2.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 4MB Cache)
  • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce 8600M GS NB8P-SE (256 megs of GDDR3 ram, 512 megs of ram with 1 gig of ram (turbocache), 1024 Megs of ram with 2 gigs of ram (turbocache)
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Display: WXGA 1280×800 15.4”
  • Hard Drive: 160GB 5400RPM Hitachi SATA drive
  • Memory: 2GB (1GB x 1GB), up to 4GB max
  • Ports: 3 USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, Kensington Lock, Headphone out, Microphone in, VGA out, HDMi out.
  • Slots: PCMCIA card (Type I/II), 6-1 Memory card reader (MS, MS PRO, MMC, MMC high speed, xD, SD), Mini PCI-E (under the ram slots)
  • Wireless: 802.11 A/B/G
  • Optical Drive: Super multi-drive (Removable)
  • Webcam: Built in 1.3 megapixel camera
  • Battery: 6-cell Li-ion battery.
  • Dimensions: 358x264x28.6~36.5 mm (14.1 x 10.4 x 1.14~1.44 in)
  • Weight: 2.63 kg, or 5.8 lbs (battery included)

I would consider this laptop to be in between the thin/light category and desktop replacement, mainly because it is thin and light, but at the same time, it packs some good power into its minimalist but highly attractive design.

Reasons for Buying

Ever since the emergence of the Santa Rosa + Nvidia 8x00M series combo, I decided it was time to jump in. Choosing a laptop in Korea is a double-edged sword because one has an almost unlimited selection of laptop brands; however, most of these laptops are identical or very similar in their specifications. (15.4, 1 gb ram, onboard video, 120 gb hard drive is the norm). In addition, Korea has zero laptops with a very good video card, the highest being available an 8600M GS. I wanted a laptop with the aforementioned video card, and because of that, I was limited to only 3 laptops: the Samsung NT-R70, the Samsung X65, and the LG R500. The R70 was the only one in my price range, and after testing it out in a Samsung store, it became a must buy for me.

Where and How Purchased

I purchased this computer at an authorized Samsung reseller at a price of 1,625,000 Korean Won. This is equivalent to about $1,750.00 US dollars. Considering that that X65 was 2,200,000 Won and the R500 was 2,400,000 Won, and also factoring in that laptops are overpriced to begin with in Korea, I felt that it was a solid, if not good deal. South Koreans allow you to haggle, so I was able to get the price down a bit from the list.

Build quality:

The Samsung R70, to say the least, is a beautiful machine. I expected top notch, AAA construction, design and build quality from Samsung and they delivered. The laptop is just one color, jet black. The lid is coated with a shiny, glossy finish and the inside is matte black. The inside might look a little unimpressive, but Samsung has actually coated the inside of the laptop, including the palm rests and keyboard, with an antibacterial, silver nano technology that handles bacteria, sweat, and oil with ease. The result is that the laptop will be a lot less prone to stains. Like I said, they tried to keep the design as minimal as possible without sacrificing quality or looks.


Top view (view large image)


Front view (view large image)


Rear view (view large image)


Left view (view large image)


Right view (view large image)


Bottom view (view large image)


Samsung R70 open (view large image)


Front thickness (view large image)


Back thickness (view large image)

The laptop is advertised thicker because it takes into account the rubber feet, but the actual thickness is much thinner than advertised.

Screen:

The R70 sports a 15.4” widescreen WXGA LCD monitor (1280×800) and it is absolutely gorgeous. The glossy screen is very bright and vivid; it really helps in bringing out the vibrant colors. The screen has ample protection as it does not have a big ripple effect when it is pressed firmly from the front and the back. It would have been nicer though if the screen was a higher resolution, especially since Vista tends to look really nice on high res screens. The vertical viewing angles were ok, but the horizontal viewing angles were much better. Please refer to the video below for the viewing angles. Also, there seems to be little to no light leakage.


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Video demonstrating viewing angles

Speakers:

The speakers on the laptop are surprisingly clear. It was much louder than a MacBook’s speakers; it also preserved the clarity at max volume. The highs and mids are very good, but the bass is disappointing. If you’re an audio enthusiast, you probably want headphones or external speakers. If not, then these speakers should be more than enough to keep you satisfied.

Processor and Performance:

The R70 was from the first line of Santa Rosa equipped Samsung laptops, and it didn’t disappoint. The processor was fast, and a huge upgrade from my single core centrino Dell. I was especially impressed with the flawless job it did in encoding and streaming 1080p videos. However, the laptop did not ship with Intel Turbo memory, which I would have liked. Because of this, a mini PCI-E slot is free on the bottom of the laptop. I was impressed with the gaming capabilities of this card. It ran all the latest, graphics intensive games at medium to high settings. For more information, benchmarks, and pictures, please visit this post: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=131334

Benchmarks:

SUPER PI:

The table below compares R70’s SuperPi score with some other notebooks

Notebook Time
Samsung R70 (2.0GHz T7300 Core 2 Duo) 57s
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz T5600 with 533MHz memory speed) 1m 16s
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 with 667MHz memory speed) 1m 02s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Fujitsu A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500, with 667MHz memory speed) 1m 22s
Asus F3Jc (1.73GHz Intel T2250) 1m 28s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Due (T2300) with 533MHz memory speed) 1m 29s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 45s

PCMARK05:

The table below compares the PCMark05 test results with some other notebooks.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Samsung R70 (2.0GHz T7300 Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 8600m) 4,965 PCMarks
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM) 3,059 PCMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700) 4,555 PCMarks
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo T2300, ATI X1400) 3,456 PCMarks
Asus V6J (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 4,265 PCMarks
Fujitsu Lifebook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500, Intel GMA 950) 2,994 PC Marks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, nVidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks
Lenovo Thinkpad R60 (1.66 Core Duo T2300E , Intel 950) 2,975 PCMarks
Acer Aspire 5102WLMi (Turion 64×2 TL50 1.6GHz, ATI 1100IGP) 2,413 PCMarks

 

HDTUNE:


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3DMARK06:

 

Notebook 3D Mark 06 Results
Samsung R70 (2.0GHz T7300 Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 8600m) 2,773
Sager NP9260 (2.66GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2x Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX video cards with 512MB DDR3) 9,097
Alienware m5790 (1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1800 256MB) 2,625
WidowPC Sting D517D (Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz, Nvidia 7900GTX 512MB) 4,833
Apple MacBook Pro (2.00GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 128MB) 1,528
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB) 2,183
ASUS A8Ja (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 512MB) 1,973
Dell XPS M1710 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX 512MB) 4,744

WINDOWS VISTA AERO SCORE:


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Heat and Noise

Noise was not an issue at all with this laptop, the R70 is quiet. Very quiet. Even after gaming for a few hours, the laptop does a good job in keeping the sound barely audible. The optical drive makes a little bit of noise, but nothing out of the norm. However, the heat may be an issue for some people. After extensive use, the palm rests get a little warm but not warm enough that your palms start to sweat. The video card gets pretty hot under full load (about 80 C). The CPU and HDD temps are cool, even under load, with the CPU temps staying in the mid 30’s idle and under 55 at full load, and the HDD staying under 40C, idle and load. The laptop is very comfortable to use on the lap mainly because the rubber feet on the bottom provide a comfortable angle and elevation. If you are wearing pants (which I’m assuming you do) the heat on the bottom of the laptop will not bother you at all.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The construction and build quality on the keyboard and touchpad are excellent. The keyboard has no flex at all, and it feels very responsive, like you are pressing one key at a time. Samsung has not included any hotkeys, with the exception of the AV now button, so this may cause a bit of adjustment time for users who are so accustomed to using hotkeys for their media, internet, email etc… The touchpad is very responsive, it responds well to slightly moist fingers as well (people with sweaty hands rejoice!). The buttons are clicky and has a nice shiny gloss to them. It also scrolls both horizontally and vertically.


Keyboard flex (view large image)

Input and Output Ports

The R70 is equipped with the following inputs and output ports: 3 USB 2.0 ports, a VGA out port, a Microphone in port, a Headphone out port, and an HDMi port that can output at full 1080p resolution and uncompressed 7.1 HD audio. The inclusion of the HDMi port was a very good decision by Samsung because many TV’s nowadays have HDMi as a standard, rather than DVI. What’s puzzling is that because it has an HDMi port, it must be HDCP compliant. But the laptop does not come with a HD-DVD or a Blu-Ray drive, so it cannot take advantage of that technology. So, the only big benefit would be streaming HD video and audio stored on your hard drive using a single cable. Nevertheless, the PQ when outputted to my projector is absolutely stunning. A 1.3 megapixel webcam is also included, but it is sub-par when compared to the ones included on the MacBook. It is sufficient, though, for basic video chatting and taking pictures.

Battery

The battery pack that was included with the laptop was a 6-cell li-ion battery. To get a general idea of the battery life, the battery lasted exactly 3.5 hrs on power saver mode with the brightness turned all the way down, and the wireless LAN on. During this test I surfed the web, chatted with a few friends, and worked on this review. When battery life hit 20%, the wireless automatically turned off to preserve more battery life. I felt that the battery lasted longer than other laptops in the same class as this one.

Wireless

The wireless card that was installed on the R70 was only 802.11a/b/g compatible, not 802.11n. This is rather strange because the launch of the Santa Rosa platform was to coincide with the launch of the new wireless N cards. I mean, the card works very well but I would have liked to have wireless N. I believe that it is now available with Wireless N so it shouldn’t be a problem for people looking for it. Regarding Bluetooth, please refer to the Operating system and Software section. Also, there is no IR.

Operating system and Software

This is probably the only major gripe I had with this machine. It included a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium, along with the usual drivers and software on a DVD. A 10GB partition was made on the HDD in case I wanted to format and restore the factory settings. If you’re a purist and prefer doing a full format, an OS DVD can be requested from the manufacturer. This partition also included the drivers so when I formatted the laptop, all the drivers and software would be installed. The laptop came with limited bloatware; most of the programs were very useful. Sounds good right? However, my machine didn’t come with Bluetooth. That’s ok when you’re machine doesn’t advertise Bluetooth, but when it comes with Bluetooth drivers (on the DVD and partition), Bluetooth software, a sticker that says Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, they should at least have the decency to throw in Bluetooth hardware. They even have the Bluetooth drivers available for download from the official Samsung Site. A call to tech support was inconclusive; they claimed Bluetooth was on the OTHER R70 model (which after doing research, I found out that it was a lie). I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated.

Customer service

Customer service was both good and bad. When I called, they immediately knew my name, what model # I had purchased and when I purchased it without me having to tell them any information (somewhat scary). I knew that they were trying their hardest to cater to my needs. At the same time though, they didn’t seem very knowledgeable about their products; they had to transfer me to different representatives to provide answers about different questions. However, it is nice that it is under global warranty and I can get no hassle service just about anywhere in the world. This is great for people who are constantly traveling.

Conclusion

All in all, I have no regrets about purchasing this notebook. The lack of Bluetooth, Wireless N, and turbo memory is offset by the gorgeous screen, the excellent design and build quality, and a great dedicated DX10 graphics card. I highly recommend this laptop for those who are looking for a solid, all around laptop that can perform almost every task that a laptop is capable of. Multimedia enthusiasts looking to stream their HD content will be delighted with the addition of a HDMi port.

Pros:

  • Beautiful screen with good brightness and color.
  • A highly capable DX10 video card in the 8600M GS.
  • Amazing design and build quality.
  • Better than average life from a 6 cell battery.
  • An HDMi port.
  • Global 1-year warranty.

Cons:

  • No wireless N.
  • No turbo memory.
  • All the Bluetooth software you will ever need but NO Bluetooth hardware.
  • No Hotkeys.


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