The 15.6-inch Samsung 600B5B certainly isn't the most attractive laptop on the market, but, with decent specs and various security options, it could be a good choice for business types or those who are subject to a brutally strict IT department.
Our model, the 600B5B-S01UK, packs a dual-core Intel Core i5-2520M processor and 4GB of RAM. It's available for around £770.
Design and build quality
The 600B5B aims to be the perfect business companion. It doesn't, therefore, try to impress you with fancy swirling patterns and bright colours that will melt your eyeballs out of your face if you stare at them for too long.
When closed, the 600B5B has a very professional look, thanks partly to its all-black design. The only thing that breaks up the surface of the shell is the subtle Samsung logo. The chassis is made from plastic, with a rubberised coating that we're quite keen on. The laptop's exterior isn't what you'd call interesting, but it would match a sharp suit and black leather briefcase well.
Although made of plastic, the shell doesn't feel flimsy in the slightest -- we prodded and poked it and found very little flex in the lid, wrist rest or keyboard. It feels very well put together and will easily put up with being carted off on a business trip or hauled between different meeting rooms.
At 2.5kg, this machine is just about light enough for you to carry between desks without having to warm up with some squat thrusts. Measuring 370 by 35 by 248mm, the 600B5B should also fit in most briefcases.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard doesn't pack the isolated keys we like so much, instead opting for the raised, edge-to-edge variety. That makes the keyboard seem slightly outdated.
At least the keyboard is pretty comfortable to type on, even for long periods, so, if you're pulling an all-nighter in a Premier Inn in Stockport ready for the presentation to the board in the morning, your fingers won't be screaming in pain as you pass the 11,000 word mark.
The trackpad is a decent size and has the same rubberised coating as the keyboard surround. It's fairly comfortable to slide your finger over. There's also a track point plonked in between the G, H and B keys for you to navigate with, complete with an extra set of buttons above the trackpad.
The 15.6-inch screen has a matte coating, so it won't show a load of distracting reflections under bright light. It also has a resolution of 1,600x900 pixels, which is really pleasing on a screen this size. The resolution is slightly under a Full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, so you won't be able to enjoy 1080p movies at their best, but documents will look crisp and clear, so you don't need to worry too much about eye strain.
If it's your turn to give the PowerPoint presentation, you can use the HDMI or VGA ports to hook the laptop up to a bigger display or projector. Around the side, you'll also find two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a USB/eSATA port, and an Ethernet port.
There's a DVD drive too, as well as a 1.3-megapixel webcam for all kinds of video-conferencing fun. Just make sure you remember to put a shirt on if you're being connected to the Milan office -- we hear those Europeans are sticklers for wearing clothes.
Finally, there's a fingerprint reader on the wrist rest, which will probably make your IT department weep little tears of joy at the added security this affords.
Under the hood, you'll find a 2.5GHz, dual-core Intel Core i5-2520M processor teamed up with 4GB of RAM. That's not a bad set of specs, especially for a machine that's built more for handling spreadsheets and pie charts than chewing through the polygons of the latest first-person shooter.
We threw the Geekbench benchmark test at the machine and it delivered an admirable score of 7,509. Geekbench tests various aspects of a computer's power, from processing speed to its ability to handle 3D gaming.
By comparison, the 15.6-inch Acer Aspire Timeline X 5830T, which we were rather keen on, achieved a score of 6,015, and was powerful enough to tackle all but the most demanding of chores. The 600B5B doesn't have the same amount of RAM as the Acer laptop, so we don't imagine it will handle multitasking with such aplomb, but it's certainly capable of running office tasks while simultaneously streaming high-quality video.
The 600B5B isn't really a machine designed for gaming, but, just in case you want to frag some noobs after a hard day in sales, we fired up 3DMark06 to see how the laptop handles polygons. Helped along by the Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics card, the 600B5B achieved a score of 5,706, which isn't too bad at all.
This machine certainly won't tackle the top games, so you'll be out of luck if you were hoping to blast through Deus Ex: Human Revolution in between making those pie charts. It's got enough grunt to handle some older titles, though, as long as you dial the settings down slightly and don't have a load of power-hungry programs open at the same time.
To see how long the 600B5B lasts away from a power outlet, we punished the battery by running the processor at full tilt until the laptop conked out. The battery managed to last about 1 hour and 45 minutes, which isn't bad. Our test is extremely brutal, so you'll find you can get much better performance with more cautious usage.
If you're mainly going to be using the 600B5B for office tasks, and won't be making much use of video or wireless Internet, you should be able to get upwards of 4 hours of constant use out of it.
The Samsung 600B5B isn't the most beautiful laptop on the market, nor is it the most powerful, but it will happily plough through any office task and won't shy away from the odd knock and bump on the road. If you're after a business laptop with security features your IT department will appreciate, it could be a good option.
Edited by Charles Kloet