Samsung has a great reputation for top-quality machines at great prices. The 200B5A adds to the list and is a usable and powerful business laptop let down only slightly by limited graphics.
While the staid, black chassis won't win any awards for design, it provides a neutral look to suit all tastes. The hard-wearing plastics and firm panels provide a sturdy feel and the whole machine feels extremely well put together.
The thick screen panel is also extremely firm and Samsung claims it will withstand up to 500kg of pressure. As with all but the Alienware M11x, this is not a laptop built with portability in mind. At 2.5kg it is quite a heavy machine and you won't want to use it as your main laptop if you travel a lot. This is backed up by a 136-minute battery life that provides only basic mobility.
The excellent user interface is a pleasure to work with and this is a great machine to use for extended periods. While the spill-resistant keyboard shuns the use of an isolated design, the firm keys, comfortable typing action and smooth movement ensure the board is quiet, accurate and responsive.
The touchpad is slightly less reactive and feels sluggish at first. Once you increase the pointer speed in Windows 7, though, it feels a bit sharper. The mouse buttons, on the other hand, are excellent. They are easy to access when working at speed and respond well, no matter how hard or soft you press them.
Another strength is the Samsung's great screen. The 15.6-inch panel uses a glossy coating to improve colour and contrast, but it is the least reflective example we've seen. Whether working in direct sunlight or under harsh lighting, you can always see the screen clearly, with images rendered sharply and brightly.
The Samsung's Intel Celeron P4600 processor means that it is outperformed by its Intel Core-powered rivals, but the difference is not as vast as expected. At no time did we see any notable slowdown and the Samsung runs quickly and efficiently at all times.
Graphics performance is where things fall down slightly. While not nearly as limited as the Toshiba Satellite Pro C660-1UX, the integrated Intel graphics card is very underpowered and won't suit gaming or media editing. There is enough power for enjoying your photos and videos, however, which is sure to suit most people's needs.
Battery Eater '05: 136 minutes
3DMark 2006: 1237
In terms of storage, the Samsung is capable, if unexceptional. The 320GB hard drive will hold large collections of music, photos and videos, but is bettered by the Acer Aspire 5943G, Advent Monza E1 and Lenovo B570. Most users will be more than satisfied with the storage on offer, though, and the anti-shock drive protects against damage if the laptop is dropped.
You can also back up your files to DVD and CD using the built-in DVD rewriter, making it easy to create movie, music and photo discs. A seven-in-one card reader is also in place and offers broad media card compatibility, letting you share files with a wide range of the most popular multimedia card formats.
While the B200B5A is not the most stylish or powerful laptop, its resilience, great screen visibility and strong usability make it an easy laptop to like. If you need a tough and capable machine that will stand up to years of demanding daily use, then this is certainly a great choice.
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