The Samsung R580 is a luxurious and powerful 15in-screen laptop, sporting Intel Core i3 processor and new nVidia graphics, and available for less than £600 - UPDATED 3 May 2010

While you can find some well-equipped laptops for under £500, spending a few pounds more can bring real dividends.

In the case of Samsung's new 15in performance all-rounder here, the Samsung R580, you get the latest Intel Core i3 dual-core processor - plus a quite capable graphics card in the shape of the nVidia 310M.

While our benchmarks of the Samsung R580 have shown that these components successfully lift performance to create an under-stated hot-rod of a laptop, Samsung crucially hasn't forgotten how to combine such technology into a well-made chassis that's comfortable to live with.

At a shade over 2.5kg and around 35mm thick, the Samsung R580 sits in the space between home-bound desktop replacement, and something you might want to tote around more regularly. And given the stylish red-to-black fade finish, it's certainly an attractive portable companion to show off.

The display back has this line-detailed and colour gradient finish all under a high-gloss lacquer. It's appealing enough but it will look slightly less smart after it's been handled a few times and smeared with the inevitable fingerprint marks.

Lift the lid, and you'll find more of the same red-black colouring on the top deck, this time with more obvious yet still discreet swirling pinstripes.

Touch and Go

Once powered up, the touchpad – just discernible from its matt texture embedded into the deck – comes to life with four tiny blue LEDs that light up each corner.

The effect could have been tacky – but combined with a series of matching pinpoint lights below the single-bar mouse clicker that give feedback on wireless status, charging, disk activity and caps lock - the final result can be quite pleasing.

And those touchpad landing-lights only illuminate when it's in use, staying on for around 30 seconds after last digital contact.

Thanks to the very wide aspect of many a modern notebook LCD display - in this case a 15.6in panel of 1366x768 resolution - it's now common to find a full number keypad sitting alongside the usual Qwerty keyboard on the stretched casework. The keys of the Samsung R580 are all Scrabble-style and have an easy, if far from slient, action.

The screen itself is victim to the usual distracting reflections found on cheap high-gloss reflective panels, and combined with poor off-axis lateral viewing angles, you'll need to be facing this screen head-on and in a darkened room to get best viewing results.

In other words, don't try and present a film to friends or spreadsheet to colleagues, especially when there are many lights or windows in the vicinity.

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