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Samsung R480 Review: Great Keyboard and Blu-Ray

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The Samsung R480 notebook was introduced at CES as part of the Samsung R series of notebooks. These notebooks all share an easy to use island style keyboard, invisible mousepad and Intel Core processors. The 14″ Samsung R480 notebook is available at Best Buy for $679.

Samsung R480 Quick Specs:

The Samsung R480 has a 2.13GHz Intel Core i3-330M, 4GB DDR3 RAM, a 14″ display with a 1366×768 resolution and a 500GB hard drive. The R480 also has a Blu-Ray drive and Intel® GMA 4500MHD GPU.

Who is this Notebook for?

The Samsung R480 is a consumer notebook that would be a good fit for use at home or in a college classroom. Thanks to the beautiful red Crystal Wave design, this notebook could also make the transition from home to the office without looking out of place. It is 5.1 pounds which is about average for a 14″ notebook which is heavy enough that you won’t want to take it everywhere, but it will fit in a backpack for a weekend trip or to and from class.

Samsung R480 Video Overview: Take a tour around the Samsung R480 with Invisible Touchpad.

Display:

The 14 inch display on the Samsung R480 makes it easy to get work and enjoyable to watch a movie when traveling. The 1366×768 resolution provides enough space to get your work done and the screen tilts back far enough to be used in most situations. It is a glossy display, but like many that I have recently used, it is not too glossy. You still won’t want to use outside on a sunny day, but overhead lights or occasional outdoor use are fine.

Keyboard and mouse:

The keyboard on the Samsung R480 is really nice. The island style and great key placement really make the keyboard standout. This keyboard is almost as good as those found on the Lenovo Edge 13 and Edge 14 which I have reviewed, which says a lot. The keys have great spacing, a good amount of feedback and provide an overall good typing experience. If you need to do a lot of typing, this is one of the best consumer notebook keyboards I have used.

The mousepad on the R480 is what Samsung calls an invisible touchpad. This means the touchpad blends in with the palmrest area; its borders denoted with 4 Blue LEDs in the corners.  The mousing surface has a good feel to it that lets you know where it begins and the palmrest ends which isn’t prone to the sticking that some afflicts some trackpads. The mouse button is one long button with a center pivot which is OK, but two separate buttons would be better; especially if you like to use your thumbs to click while typing.

Battery:

The battery life of the Samsung R480 was disappointing in that it only achieved 2 hours under fairly normal use; Word, surfing the web, Tweetdeck and maybe a short YouTube video. I was able to get close to two and a half hours dimming the display a bit more but that’s still short by today’s standards. One thing I did like about the Samsung R480′s battery is that it has a built-in gauge to tell you how much battery life is left. This is very useful when you are grabbing a notebook and running out the door.

Video and Audio:

When it comes to enjoying yourself with the R480, the built in speakers and Blu-Ray drive will keep you entertained. The notebook handled both 720P and 1080P video files with ease though using the optical drive to watch a Blu-Ray disc does cut into the battery life.

The speakers on the Samsung R480 are better than expected and unlike many laptops don’t have a tinny sound. While you won’t be blown away by the bass and the middle is a bit muddy the speakers are still better than average and will get you through a movie or fill an office or hotel room with music.

Processing:

The R480 is powered by a 2010 Intel Core i3 processor and backed up by 4GB of DDR3 RAM which provides it enough power to meet the needs of even an above average user. During my month with the device I used it for everything from editing photos, typing posts, editing videos to upload to YouTube and calling on Skype; all of which the R480 handled without a problem. If this sounds like the way you use a notebook you won’t need to worry about the performance on the R480.

Unfortunately, if you are doing something that is processor intensive the Samsung R480 will warm up a bit. It isn’t too hot to hold or use, but warm enough to notice and warmer than I have seen on other Intel Core i3 notebooks.

Connectivity:

The Samsung R480 has plenty of ports to keep you connected.

Left (left to right): Power, Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB, USB, Microphone, Headphone

Right (left to right): Blu-Ray, USB, Kensington

The front also has a 3-in-1 card reader.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, the Samsung R480 is an average notebook that defines itself with a great keyboard and a Blu-Ray drive at an affordable price. You can find a cheaper Core i3 notebook with a Blu-Ray drive, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one with a Lenovo-like keyboard, style and extra touches like a battery meter. If you’re looking for a notebook that has these extras for a small price premium then the Samsung R480 should be on your list.

Pros:

  • Great keyboard
  • Style and extra touches like a battery meter

Cons:

  • Runs warm
  • Mediocre battery life

Samsung R480 Detailed Specifications:

Brand Samsung
Model R480
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
Processor / Graphics Intel Core i3 2.13GHz

Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD

Memory 4 GB DDR3 RAM 1066 MHz (Max 8GB)
Hard drive SATA 500 GB HDD 5400 rpm
Display / Resolution 14.0-inch HD 1366×768 High-definition LED-backlit
Removable Storage DVD±RW/Blu-ray Disc/CD-RW
Wireless Support Wireless-B+G+N
Communications WebCam, Gigabit Ethernet
Input Devices Full-size keyboard, Synaptics touchpad
Power 5200mAh 6-cell battery
Memory card reader Yes, Media Card Reader supporting SD and major formats
Accessible memory slots 2 slots
Maximum Memory Expansion Up to 8 GB
Ports Headphone/speaker/line-out jack, Microphone-in jack, DC-in jack for AC adapter
Additional Ports 3 x USB (2.0) , HDMI, VGA
Audio HD, SRS Sound
Weight 5.5 lbs. or less
Dimension 343.9 x 239.0 x 30.5 – 37.9mm
PC Card Slot None
Webcam Built in w/ mic
Warranty 1-Yr Parts and Labor

Josh Smith is a longtime mobile tech user, currently using a Droid as his primary smartphone. Josh is also an editor at Notebooks.com where he reviews notebooks and other mobile tech. Follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Smith or email him Josh@Notebooks.com.

11 Comments

  1. Triggerman

    June 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I have become a big Fan of Samsung over the last years, since I think the value for money on their products is pretty much unbeatable. Maybe not the top of the line compared the high price manufacturers, but solid and clever technology at an affordable and fair price. Bought it a few weeks ago and I must say I'm very happy with it, all the features I need and the design is really appealing.

  2. Bumbleetuna122

    July 12, 2010 at 12:16 am

    I recently purchaed the Samsung R480 and I LOVE it. It's lightweight-you can carry it just about anywhere with fast processing. I am not huge on computer specs, but the awesome keyboard, striking color, and fast processing really make it stand out. LOVE IT!

  3. Lucas langat

    October 15, 2010 at 4:50 am

    THE BEST!

  4. George

    November 26, 2010 at 10:21 am

    How can this be any good and in fact use the term “HD Audio” since there is NO SPDIF out to transmit 5.1 audio to a receiver??? (no, hdmi audio is a bad choice unless we’re looking at high-end, expensive receivers on the other end)

  5. SLMC

    December 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Bought the laptop about 2 months ago and love it. I purchased a couple other types and returned within a few days. Once I purchased and began using the Samsung I was hooked. I have not had any issues of it running warm at all. I have watched movies, extensive work, networking etc… and at no time has it run warm. The keyboard is great. The Samsung also runs quiet. There are other laptops that the fan runs almost constantly and it is loud. My Samsung is quiet which makes watching movies and working much nicer. The Blu Ray was a definite bonus. Purchased the laptop on a special buy at Best Buy for $449.99. They were running a package deal with the recovery disc for an additional $49.00. What a bargain.

  6. Ja

    December 23, 2010 at 3:52 am

    I own a similar one(it’s called r478-dt03) and the only difference is that it run on i5-520m, does not have blu-ray, and comes with MS-DOS. Other than that mine;s the same

    • Willy

      July 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      is the battery the same? cuz my battery burned out from charging it too much (forgot to unplug it while in sleep mode for 2 days) and i needa find a battery asap… and so far i found the 5200 mAh one,.. and some online sites reviewing the specs put it as 4000 and smth mAh… can ya help me please? i think mine’s the same as urs… intel core i 5 and no blu-ray

  7. Andrew

    January 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    My friend brags at how good his mac book pro is, but i had a nice debate with him about how good his really is…he paid way more money, 1300, i paid 500 and we have the same ram, i have more hard drive, plus a better graphics card, and i can play blu rays and have an hdmi output. This laptop is simply unmatched for the price

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