Samsung has reinvented its laptop line-up recently and the introduction of the Samsung R20 (£385 inc. VAT) brings in a new super budget-priced machine. The black laquer of the lid is matched with the matt-black plastic of the interior, making this an attractive if understated machine.
The use of plastic makes this a solid and robust design, but we were a little worried about the battery pack that protrudes from the back, as this could easily be knocked. With a weight of 2.3kg, this is a portable machine. Sadly, it's battery life didn't live up to expectations, lasting less than three hours on test.
To keep weight to a minimum, the use of a 14.1-inch widescreen panel has been used. This comes with a Super-TFT coating, with the result being a sharp image.
That said, this was a very unimpressive screen on test, as it needs to be run at full brightness for the best results. While all Super-TFT screens have a slight grain that can only be seen at obtuse angles, the graining of the Samsung was more pronounced, which highlights the lower cost of the machine.
Graphics use an ATi integrated chipset and, while it gave decent test results, this is a low-level solution that uses 128MB of system memory when running taxing applications.
The keyboard spans the full width of the chassis and the keys are of a good size and well mounted. There is a degree of rattle as you type, but for the price it felt incredibly sturdy. To be fair, it isn't up to the standard of the best keyboards, but it's close.
When it comes to performance, the specification of the R20 is very much in keeping with the other machines at this price point. You'll find an Intel Celeron M processor backed with 512MB of memory. This is adequate for basic tasks, such as email and surfing the internet, and we found no problem using it for daily tasks.
Things started to slow down when we had virus-checking programs running in the background, so it'll be worth budgeting for a memory upgrade, as you'll see performance improve drastically.
When it comes to extras, you won't find too many on the R20. There is a DVD rewriter built-in and Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity are standard. You'll also find a 6-in-1 card reader and ExpressCard slot, as well as a VGA-out port for connecting to an external monitor.
The Samsung R20 is a great example of a machine designed specifically for its price point. The build quality is excellent for a semi-lightweight machine, but what really appeals is the quality of the keyboard, which makes writing long documents an easy task.