Designed with an eye on practicality and with style often factoring low in the equation, corporate laptops are rarely things of beauty. Samsung's new business-oriented P580 doesn't do anything to alter this image.
This portable laptop for road warriors is as plain as plain can be, looking like it was designed by a committee to be as inconspicuous as possible for fear of offending anyone.
Fortunately, Samsung compensates by bundling a great set of specs under the hood, even whacking in a graphics card, and it's well priced.
First, let's cover that look. The one thing Samsung has gone for is to manufacture a hardy business model. The press bumph states that the P-Series " boasts a light-yet-tough rubberised soft-grip lid".
We can't argue with that. The matte black lid has a rubberised bump surface produced by tiny raised squares and feels both practical and resilient.
The P580 also has a Protect-O-Edge casing, which sounds like something dreamed up by Nick Park for Wallace and Gromit. But again, we can't fault the results. We found it very sturdy and obviously capable of withstanding a few knocks. It's also built to cope with the demands of travelling, with Samsung including one of its anti-drop hard drive sensors; this kicks in a bit too easily by default, but the sensitivity settings can be changed.
The ugly chassis is hard to ignore, though. It feels like it's made from the leftover plastic Formica flooring that bedecked dodgy cafés of yesteryear. We were almost waiting for a tomato ketchup bottle shaped like an actual tomato to fall out of Samsung's box. Practical, resilient, but ugly as sin.
The brilliant keyboard goes some way to making up for this. It's built with business practicalities in mind.
Samsung hasn't opted for a chiclet-style board, which seems to be the choice these days, but we found it perfect for long periods of use thanks to a solid bounce and keys that make the most of the 15.6in frame. The over-sized backspace, return and right shift keys further aid usability. It also has a separate numeric keypad at the right, making it simpler for bean counters to type in data on Excel docs or accounting packages.
The touchpad was rather more disappointing. It has a blue backlit LED that feels completely out of place, and sports a multi-touch interface. If it were the same size as an iPad screen it would work, but it's way too small to be of any practical use here.
We were surprised at the lack of features such as biometric support or even a PC card slot; the latter means you will need to keep those USB keys handy.
However, the usual range of ports are available. The right-hand side houses a multi-format DVD drive and two USB ports, while the left has a VGA port, Ethernet, a couple of audio jacks and one more USB.