The Samsung R580 is a stylish notebook that uses the latest hardware, comes with a lot of support-based software, and will last for hours with its battery-saving features.

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The lid’s ‘red infused crystal finish’ and distinctive S-pattern gives it a sophisticated look. The durable casing helps minimise scratches, while the black-red gradation and finish masks fingerprints and smudges.

Samsung has included quite a number of ports on the R580. It has four USB ports (one with a chargeable USB function and one eSATA + USB), an ExpressCard slot, HDMI out, D-Sub, Gigabit LAN, microphone and headphone port, and a DVD burner. It also comes with Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and a built-in microphone.

The island-style keyboard is well-spaced and made it easy for us to type. The touchpad is integrated onto the casing but can still be felt (and seen) as the scroll area is rough and the corners are LED-lit. The touchpad also supports gesture functions, allowing us to scroll, zoom in/out, or rotate photos. The 15.6-inch LED screen (with 1366 x 768 resolution) is bright and produced good colours during our video test.

The unit is powered by Intel’s new Core i5 processor (520M at 2.4Ghz), uses Nvidia’s GeForce GT 330M (1GHz) video card, and has 4GB of RAM. This fairly powerful hardware allowed us to run multiple programs without experiencing massive slowdowns. Running 3DMark revealed that it can play some of the latest games, with the R580 gaining a score of 16524 on the 03 version and 7448 on the 06 version.

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Besides being pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit), McAfee Security Center [sic], Cyberlink DVD Suite and Microsoft Office (60-day trial), Samsung has also included a couple of security and support software to help users get the most out of the notebook.

One pre-installed program that we found useful is FailSafe, a program that can track, retrieve and delete data from the notebook remotely. The Samsung Recovery Solution backs up important data and restores it when a problem occurs, while the Samsung Update Plus automatically searches, downloads, and installs the “most optimal versions of pre-installed Samsung software and drivers for your system”.

Whether or not these tools are useful for users is another question, but we’d rather have a couple of programs that can help us get things done than doing it by ourselves.

The R580’s 6-cell battery lasted for 136 minutes in our DVD test, but users can definitely extend its life by turning on the power-saving functions.

The Samsung R580 (with i5 processor, GeForce GT330M video card) is available now for $1399.

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