A few years ago Esther and I bought a pair matching of matching Dell Studio 17s (isn’t that cute?). Neither of us were ever really happy with them but for the most part they worked. I had a hardware conflict that would cause Windows 7 to blue screen immediately after loading after I went through the initial setup but I managed to resolve that through safe mode. The last few weeks were testing my patience since my battery was hardly holding a charge. To top it off the optical drive in Esther’s laptop has been dead for I don’t remember how long so she’s been lugging around an external drive to play the various incarnations of the Sims games.
With Esther leaving the workforce to take care of Nadia it made sense for me to upgrade to something that will last me for a few more years and swap out the battery in my laptop for the one in hers and let her use that one. So the hunt began.
I spent a decent chunk of time checking out different configurations from a the major manufacturers but the configurations never really seemed to line up with what I was looking for. Every one seemed to be missing something. I’d find one with 4GB RAM but the only processor option was an i3 or I’d find one with an i5 but no option for a 64-bit OS. On the rare occasion that I found something that had what I was looking for it wound up out of my price range.
Eventually I stopped looking at the manufacturer sites and started looking at some of the nearby stores. Naturally most of the laptops I was interested in were only sold online but one of the nice things about living in the Indianapolis area is that we actually have a Fry’s. The Fry’s website is obnoxious but after a little digging I found something unexpected – a laptop that I not only liked and had everything I was looking for but was also IN STOCK at the local store. The only thing I was a bit concerned about is that it was from a manufacturer I like but haven’t really traditionally associated with laptops.
When I got to the store I looked around the laptop display and didn’t see it. Eventually a sales associate came by and told me that they didn’t have a display model but he’d be happy to get one out for me to see. Not long after I’d had a chance to look it over I was sold. That was about two weeks ago.
Since then I’ve been the proud owner of a Samsung RF511 and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s a good balance of price and everything I was looking for in a laptop. I could have gone for a bit more memory for the GPU and a faster hard drive (5400 rpm? c’mon) but given that it has an i7-2630M processor and 4GB DDR3 I can’t complain much since it was under $900. I haven’t noticed the device’s shortcomings but I’m sure I’d probably be singing a different tune if I was doing any serious gaming.
As far as extensibility and connectivity goes the Samsung has it covered with:
- 2 USB 2.0 ports
- 2 USB 3.0 ports
- VGA connection
- HDMI connection
- 4-in-1 card reader
- 802.11 b/g/n
- RJ-45 LAN connection
Some other notable observations:
- The sound quality is superb and is among the best I’ve heard from laptop speakers.
- I like that Samsung only included hard buttons for volume and toggling Wi-Fi rather than including other extraneous buttons for browser/media/email/etc…
- The device itself is gorgeous. Both the brushed metal around the keyboard and the way the cover catches light are really eye-catching. The downside of the cover though is that its easy to smudge.
- The device weighs just 5.73 lbs, a bit more than 2 lbs lighter than the Studio 17!
The only thing I can really say I’ve had trouble with is adjusting to the touch pad and keyboard. In regard to the touch pad – the hardware is fine – it’s just significantly larger than the one on the Studio 17 so I find myself bumping it periodically. There’s also nothing wrong with the keyboard, it’s just that there’s enough difference between the key size and layout (an extra fn key for example) that it throws me off every once in a while, particularly when trying to use ctrl + arrow to jump between words.
Even though I’ve only had the laptop for two weeks I couldn’t be happier with it. Add the RF511 to the list of Samsung devices that I love.
Esther is also happy to finally have Windows 7 (the Studio 17s had Vista pre-installed, I upgraded later) and a working optical drive. I was a bit disappointed by one thing though…
…The first thing she did before even booting the device was remove the Visual Studio 2010 sticker! :(