The Joybook R45 is an odd mix between premium and entry level. It's certainly built solidly enough, and when closed it paints quite the attractive picture. Even the brown vinyl surrounded by a silver trim, designed in faux-leather style gives it a nice, refined touch, if a little fake.
The standard battery extends beyond the back of the laptop, but only slightly, and given the laptop's 14.1-inch size this shouldn't cause any issues with fitting it in satchels or laptop bags.
The interior is a mix of black, silver, grey and a single red trim, along with glowing red buttons for power and wireless — giving the impression that we were typing on a Cylon, which is all types of cool. Nonetheless, the cheap silver plastic may offend some in its old-school nature, and the single bar used as a both left and right mouse buttons requires far too much pressure to activate.
Being a mainstream laptop, the R45 comes with a fairly standard set of ports — four USB, HDMI, D-Sub, FireWire, headphone/microphone, Express card, SD/MS card reader, and gigabit Ethernet and modem jacks.
A DVD+-RW sits on the right-hand side, a 2-megapixel camera on the top, while internally the machine is driven by an Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 (2.1GHz), 1GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 8400M G graphics chip, and a 160GB hard drive split equally into two partitions. Those who want to do more than just office work or internet browsing may wish to upgrade the 1GB RAM to 2GB, especially since the laptop runs the resource hungry Windows Vista Home Premium.
Crapware is kept surprisingly light, the only annoyances being the bundled Arcsoft webcam software which pesters you to register (and is also very slow to load); Trend Micro's antivirus which also harasses you to register for a 90-day trial (and although it only requires an email address; we do wonder when antivirus firms will start harvesting personal information much like the malware they're trying to stop); and BenQ's bundled "Q-MediaBar 2", an annoying program which consists of a big "Qmedia" logo, around which rotates program shortcuts in 3D. Sounds impressive, but sadly is not, and you'll be switching it off quickly.
3D performance was expectedly low considering the GeForce 8400M, scoring 1,125 in 3DMark06 — this is not a gaming laptop. In PCMark05 the R45 scored 4,397, making this more than adequate for day-to-day tasks and office usage.
Turning off all the power-saving features, setting the screen brightness and volume to maximum, we played back a DVD to stress the system. Under these conditions, the battery lasted one hour, 24 minutes and 41 seconds. Obviously under normal office conditions with power-saving features turned on it will last significantly longer.
BenQ's Joybook R45 is a good laptop at a great price — and will be even better once you get an extra gigabyte of RAM in there.