Samsung's R40 (£669 inc. VAT) comes in at a good price and while it's easy to see that compromises have been made, we found it a pleasing machine to use.
For instance, the plastic chassis initially feels rather cheap and underwhelming, but after using it for a while you realise it's actually quite sturdy and solid. The keyboard didn't initially inspire us either, as there is a definite rattle when you type.
However, the keys are of a good size and are firmly mounted. The rattle is the result of the amount of travel each key must make when struck.
The 15.4-inch screen is a standard TFT panel, but it is firmly attached and there was no sign of bounce as we typed. The screen isn't the brightest on test and needed turning to full brightness for the best image. Graphics are handled by the ATi Radeon Xpress 200M, which is an integrated solution and offers roughly the same performance as an Intel 945GM chipset.
The R40 uses a dual-core processor but at this price we were surprised to find the specification included Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processor.
The T5500 has a clock speed of 1.6GHz, so isn't the fastest chip in the range, but as it's paired with 1024MB of DDR2 memory, this is still a powerful solution. This was borne out in tests with a MobileMark 2005 of 251, which is faster than we expected.
The only thing that separates this chip from faster GPUs in the range is the use of 2MB of Level 2 cache as opposed to 4MB on the faster chips. This means some tasks will be slower, but we didn't see any real evidence of this. In daily use, we found this a well-specified machine that handled tasks well.
While not intended as a regular mobile machine, the weight of 2.8kg means you can carry it on a semi-regular basis without too much trouble. Sadly, the battery life didn't live up to expectations and fell below our three-hour minimum.
With quite a large chassis space, Samsung has designed the internals of this machine well, as we found no sign of heat build-up. To this end, the chassis remained cool to the touch even after long periods of use - something you'll seldom find at this price point.
While we weren't initially overwhelmed with the Samsung R40, it quickly proved to be a usable and effective laptop. The battery life lets down what is a semi-portable machine, but if you're looking for a bargain priced desktop replacement and don't need full multimedia tools, this machine is well worth considering.