- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2009

Sometimes you forget things; I know I do. When I sat down with Samsung’s P560 portable computer, I’d forgotten how big a 15.4-inch (diagonally measured) display screen could be.

I mention this because the P560, list price $1,349 but available from Amazon.com for about $71 less, comes at a time when the “netbook” is all the rage, 8- or 10 -inch screens are what the world needs now, maybe a 13-inch mini-notebook if you want to push it. Who wants to lug around a behemoth at 15.4 or, gasp, 17 inches, if you can avoid it.

Were I trekking around the globe or climbing Everest, I’d go for something small and light. But I’m doing neither most days. Instead, for those seeking a good “desktop replacement” notebook, one you can park in the office most days and take on the road when needed, I think this machine deserves consideration.

The P560 doesn’t have the rich sound or overstuffed multimedia features of some portables: There’s no TV tuner here, or BluRay Disc capability. The sound is adequate, but you would want headphones to hear the best sound. This is more of a business computer and, at this, the P560 does very well.

My test unit arrived with Windows 7. There’s a conflict between the newer operating system and the supplied McAfee anti-virus software, so I trashed the McAfee programs for testing purposes. If I were to keep this machine, I’d install a nonconflicting anti-virus; McAfee is a good program but has too many annoying “please register this” messages for my taste.

On the productivity side, I installed Google Chrome Web browser. I foresee few problems with most mainstream applications here, though there might well be some exceptions.

Typing on the computer’s keyboard was pleasant — good tactile response, which is important. The touchpad was very good, too, responsive to double-taps in lieu of mouse clicks; and there are mouse buttons below the touchpad.

The display screen is billed as “1280 x 800 WXGA, 220 nits, Non-glossy with Ambient Light Sensor,” which translates to a good viewing experience. I don’t know if I’d want to watch “Dances With Wolves” here, but I could and, more important, I could watch my work get done without hassle.

The P560 weighs just less than 6 pounds, making it an agreeable traveling companion. The optical drive features LightScribe technology, which will “burn” a disc label onto one side of the DVD or CD you create on the other. It’s a handy feature.

Wireless connections include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. An Ethernet port and built-in dial-up modem are standard items. In short, this is the kind of computer you could take just about anywhere and still be “in business,” connected to the rest of the world. It’s got the power you would want, and performance shouldn’t be an issue. My nonscientific tests revealed a battery life close to the claimed six hours, and that’s a pleasant surprise.

Overall, I’m impressed with the Samsung P560. It’s a good computer, a good value, and the company behind it certainly has the resources to offer good support. Should you need one, or a dozen, for your business, it’s well worth looking at.

You can find out more about the computer online at http://tinyurl.com/alne26.

Send e-mail to mkellner@washingtontimes.com.