Monday, November 15, 2010

Hardware Review: Samsung NP-R439-DA0BIN Notebook

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I recently bought the Samsung NP-R439-DA0BIN Notebook and to be frank and I am pretty impressed with its performance. I’ll have to warn you that it’s my first notebook and my observations might lack some deep insights you might expect.

Quick Specs:

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Intel Core i5 Processor @ 2.53 GHz, 3GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, 14” HD LED, Multi-touch and all the other features that you might expect with a notebook. I bought it for Rs. 36,500 ($812) at Chennai.

Build:

The laptop’s body is very sturdy although it’s not as heavy as I expected. Crimson red is the only colour option available in this model. The surface isn’t shiny and it’s comfortable if your hands get sweaty often. There are 3 USB Ports included (I expected 4 or more), but if you need to connect more devices a USB hub should do. The in-built web cam works fine as long as you have adequate lighting. As a leftie, I find it inconvenient to see the power button on the right side of the laptop, but I can’t really complain about it.

Display & Audio:

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The display is arguably good. The pictures are sharp enough and look better than my desktop’s LCD Monitor. 16:9 aspect ratio is supported which is great for viewing HD videos. The display is a bit glossy and can become uncomfortable if you are in a well-lit environment.

The audio isn’t great, but I don’t feel it’s a big deal since I rarely use the speakers. My entire video-watching still happens on the desktop. VoIP applications like Skype can be used with the internal microphone. Fortunately, there isn’t much interference between the speakers and the microphone for the person on the other side of the call.

Keyboard & Track pad:

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The Keyboard is very soft and comfortable to use and there isn’t much to say about it. The function keys are greatly assigned when compared to desktops (which I’ve been used to). The multi-touch track pad is very good, but I always use a USB Optical mouse.

Ports:

The laptop comes with 3 USB Ports, HDMI/VGA and the standard stuff like Ethernet, MMC etc. eSATA and dial-up modem compatibility is included, but not natively available. The laptop also has the usual bells and whistles like WLAN, Bluetooth and the likes.

Battery:

The battery life is around 3-hours if used on a power saving mode. But I always use the laptop on power rather than battery.

Software:

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The laptop comes with Free DOS, which means it’s a lot cheaper than other laptops in this range that usually come packed with Windows 7. A Utility CD is included and it contains all the Windows 7 drivers for this model. Samsung has also included some utilities which will automatically check for updates to obsolete system drivers. It gets a 4.4 rating on Windows Experience Index (on Windows 7 Ultimate).

The laptop is very good keeping in mind what if offers you for the price. Here’s a LOVE/HATE section to pack the contents of this review.

LOVE:

  • A Spacious Keyboard unlike its peers.
  • Does not come with Proprietary software (this is good, if you will be provided the license to Windows by your Office/Educational institution); you might also want to run Ubuntu on it.
  • The Webcam is very good provided you have adequate lighting to support it.
  • The track pad is very responsive and multi-touch is interesting.
  • HDMI port is available.
  • The Core i5 Processor.
  • Support for 64-bit OS (I am still on 32-bit since I read on various blogs that not every software/hardware you stumble upon will work with 64-bit; so the 64-bit support is good keeping in mind the future).

HATE:

  • Only 3 USB Ports are provided; I don’t know if it’s relatively good, but I expected at least 4.
  • Came with DOS, will it cost Samsung a fortune to install Ubuntu onto it? I couldn’t test any aspect of the laptop when buying it.

If you are looking to buy this laptop, I’ll definitely recommend it. The laptop’s page at Samsung’s website provides inaccurate specifications like mentioning that there are only 2 RAM slots while there are actually 4 so if you need more clarity on that leave a comment below.