Priced at around £660, the Samsung R610 is one of the cheapest available laptops with a Blu-ray drive. The question is: has Samsung had to compromise on the rest of the spec to fit in that headline-grabbing feature?
The R610 has a similar design to other models in Samsung's R series, but that's no bad thing. Like its siblings, the R610 is decked out in a glossy black finish with a pleasing red flash across the front lip.
One of the foremost features of this laptop is its Blu-ray drive, which lets you watch movies in high definition. As the laptop's 16-inch screen has a true widescreen aspect ratio, HD films are displayed without any annoying black bars. But the screen only has a 1,366x768-pixel resolution -- some way off the 'Full HD' resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels.
Given the large screen size, there's plenty of room on the chassis for a decent-sized keyboard. The keys are well spaced, so you'll have no problem using the keyboard for touch typing. We also like the trackpad, with its chunky but responsive buttons.
The R610's 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor isn't the fastest on the block but, given that Samsung has kitted the machine out with 3GB of RAM, the R610 can handle most of today's multitasking jobs without too much bother. It posted a decent score of 4,701 in our PCMark05 benchmark tests.
Samsung has also been pretty generous with the range of ports on offer. Alongside four USB ports, there's also HDMI and D-Sub connectors for hooking the R610 up to a TV or projector, and an SD card slot that makes it easy to transfer photos from a digital camera. The presence of an ExpressCard slot also means there's room for expansion in the future.
The R610 isn't a great performer when it comes to 3D graphics. With its Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS GPU, it scored a rather low 2,035 in 3DMark06, so you'll have to turn down most of the detail in the latest games to get them to play at a decent frame rate.
The laptop's battery performance isn't the best either. In the intensive Battery Eater Classic test, it managed to keep running for a lacklustre 1 hour and 33 minutes. Other laptops in this price range usually manage to eke out more life from their batteries.
We've a few other quibbles too. There's no eSATA port for connecting up external hard drives, the speakers sound surprisingly tinny, and the display isn't as bright as that of some other 16-inch models we've seen, such as the HP HDX X16.
Although the Samsung R610 has a reasonable price tag, it falls between two stools. Despite the Blu-ray drive, it's not sufficiently feature-rich to tempt those after an entertainment laptop, and it's too expensive for those seeking a budget machine. In our opinion, you'd be better off looking at other models in Samsung's R series, such as the R710 and R560.
Edited by Charles Kloet