More than just good looks


  • TECH
  • Monday, 31 Jan 2011

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Samsung wants you to have the best of both worlds with the SF410 notebook which looks good and performs great.

By CHONG JINN XIUNG intech@thestar.com.my

Samsung has blended style and substance with the SF410 multimedia notebook. It looks attractive on the outside and has plenty of firepower on the inside.

The notebook’s glossy white ­exterior is elegant and classy. Surprisingly, it doesn’t attract fingerprints and we are really ­grateful for that.

What makes the notebook really stand out from others is the top which has a curved, wavy design and silver bezels lining the sides.

For a 14in notebook, the SF410 also feels lightweight. It’s not very big which makes it suitable for ­travel. It also helps that the power brick doesn’t take up much space so its easy to stow.

Along the sides of the notebook, you’ll find three USB ports. Two are cleverly placed on the left side within a little cover that protects the ports from dusts.

The ­notebook’s HDMI port is also housed next to the USB ports.

A third port is located on the right side which is great for, say, hooking up a mouse. The SF410 also has a DVD combo drive for reading the occasional CD or DVD as well as burning new discs.

The notebook has a largely black interior with a grey brushed metal palm rest. The sunken chiclet keyboard is comfortable to type on and is well spaced out but the keys aren’t backlit.

Like most modern notebooks, the SF410’s touchpad supports ­multitouch gestures. This makes it easy to navigate websites because it’s easy to perform actions like scrolling up and down a page.

Multimedia ­performance

The SF410’s 14in display has a ­resolution of 1,366 x 768-pixels. It has good levels of contrast and brightness for watching movies and playing games.

We were able to play HD movies such as 300 in 720p but the ­notebook faltered when we tried 1080p videos. When we tried Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in 1080p, the playback was choppy at best.

Another disappointment is the screen’s viewing angles which is poor for both horizontal and ­vertical.

This will pose a problem if you use the machine to edit images with a photo editor.

In terms of audio quality, the SF410’s speakers are very loud and sounded good even when the volume was pushed all the way up.

The SRS 3D virtual sound also works and the experience was immersive when we tried playing songs, games and movies.

However, the speakers lacked the deep bass of a dedicated desktop speaker. This was especially pronounced when we played Gorillaz’s bass-heavy Feel Good Inc and a few of other electric-guitar-heavy tracks from the Darkness.

Gaming on the go

You won’t be limited to doing just one thing at a time with the SF410. The notebook has a powerful Intel Core i5 460M processor and plenty of memory (4GB) that you’ll be comfortably browsing the Net and watching movies at the same time.

The notebook is also not too shabby when it comes to gaming. We tried the popular first-person game Left 4 Dead 2 and it ran smoothly at 30fps (frames per second) with the ­graphics on high and ­anti-aliasing turned on.

When we lowered the ­graphics to medium, the frame rate shot up to 60fps. The game looked great and the notebook didn’t skip a frame even when there were hordes of zombies on screen.

We pushed the notebook further by trying something more ­graphically demanding — Crysis: Warhead.

As expected, the settings needed to be toned down substantially in order to make the game playable at a stable frame rate.

The best the nVidia GeForce GT 310M graphics chip could handle was the lowest graphics setting and even then the game was chugging at 19fps.

There was noticeable texture pop-ins due to the limited draw distance but the game was still playable, allowing us to shoot bad guys and cause massive explosions.

The notebook also has several handy features. The one we like is the Fast Start function which brings the notebook out of sleep mode in just five to six seconds.

That’s noticeably faster than most ­notebooks that we’ve reviewed recently.

There is also a sleep-and-charge USB port that allows devices to be charged ­without turning on the notebook.

In terms of battery life, the SF410 survived for about 3.5 hours of normal usage such as web ­surfing and movie ­viewing before needing a recharge.

That’s actually not too bad if you consider that this is a ­multimedia ­notebook. Also, that’s long enough to get some work done while away from the desk without having to be leashed to a power outlet.

Conclusion

The Samsung SF410 will serve well as a travel notebook because it is reasonably portable and ­lightweight, and also has a long lasting battery.

It can double up as a multimedia machine for watching HD movies as long as you can settle for 720p ­quality.

It is also not too shabby in the gaming department, and is able to handle most older games. However, it struggles to handle new and graphics intensive games.

It comes with a slightly hefty price tag of RM3,199. That makes it pricier than most medium-range notebooks but you’ll get what you are paying for as this notebook is packed with lots of features.

Pros: Not too big or heavy; long battery life; can handle games and 720p HD movies; handy Fast Start function.

Cons: Screen has poor viewing angles; ­speakers lack bass; can’t play 1080p HD ­videos.

SF410 (Samsung) Multimedia notebook PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5 460M (2.53GHz) MEMORY: 4GB RAM DISPLAY: 14in (1,366 x 768-pixel resolution) with LED backlight GRAPHICS: nVidia GeForce GT 310M 1GB RAM STORAGE: 500GB CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11bg/n, Bluetooth 3.0, gigabit Ethernet port OPTICAL DRIVE: DVD combo drive PORTS/SLOTS: Three USB ports, HDMI slot, VGA out, SD card, headphone/microphone combo jack OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Home Premium OTHER FEATURES: Webcam, sleep-and-charge USB port, SRS 3D virtual sound DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 34.7 x 24.6 x 2.69cm WEIGHT: 2.19kg WEBSITE: www.samsung.com/my PRICE: RM3,199 RATING: 3.5 Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics (SME) Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-9999

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