Samsung – R720 review

17-inch screen laptop at a good price
Photo of Samsung – R720

With a price tag of £599, Samsung’s R720 sits in the budget desktop replacement sector. Going by looks alone, though, it certainly doesn’t come across as being a budget laptop.

Open up the lid and you’re greeted by a glossy 17.3-inch display that has a relatively high native resolution of 1600 x 900. Like the majority of displays these days, it’s also LED backlit, which means it’s less of a drain on the battery. It also benefits from good viewing angles and decent outdoor visibility.

The keyboard features full-sized keys and there’s even room for a numeric keyboard. Sat just below the keyboard is a responsive trackpad that lights up blue when in use. One slight issue is that the plastic bar that separates the keyboard and trackpad is incredibly susceptible to fingerprint marks. We found ourselves constantly rubbing it clean during testing.

Samsung furnishes the R720 with a decent selection of ports. Display outputs come in the form of VGA-out and HDMI-out, while there are two USB ports on either side; one of these doubles up as an eSATA port.

Thanks to the 320GB hard drive, there are no problems as far as storage space is concerned. Should you want to archive any data, a DVD writer is located on the right-hand side of the laptop.

Wireless connectivity is provided by built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b/g WiFi. Quite why Samsung has seen fit to shun 802.11n wireless is something of a mystery to us, and it could be enough to dissuade more than a few potential buyers.

A total of 4GB of RAM is installed, though with the 32-bit version of Vista Home Premium you’ll only be able to use around 3.2GB of this. And whereas most laptops in this price range offer an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Samsung has opted to go with a slightly slower Pentium Dual Core model. The T4300 CPU runs at a reasonable 2.1GHz, but it only has 1MB of L2 cache available. However, Vista ticked along smoothly and it managed to put in a decent showing in PCmark05, with a score of 4,951.

Graphics are handled by an ATI Radeon HD 4330 card. With 512MB of RAM at its disposal, this card is capable of some light gaming just as long as you keep the resolution settings down on the latest titles. We tested it out with Call of Duty 4 and were pleasantly surprised with the results. At its native resolution of 1600 x 900 and with anti-aliasing switched on it struggled along at 10.9fps. However, dropping down to 1280 x 720 and switching anti-aliasing off saw this increase to a playable 21.4fps.

Large laptops such as this probably won’t spend too much time away from the mains, but weighing just under 3kg it’s something you could quite easily take on the occasional train journey. The 4,000mAh battery kept the lights on for just over an hour when the laptop was running along at full pelt, but if you do little more than web surfing you can expect around two-and-a-half hours out of it. Not outstanding, but not bad either, considering the large display.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 0845 726 7864

At £599, the Samsung R720 packs in a lot. Sure, the Pentium Dual Core processor might put some people off, but the fact is it really doesn't impact performance too much. And although the Radeon HD 4330 graphics card won't be up to high-resolution, high-detail gaming, it's far better than the integrated graphics you usually get at this price. If you want a 17-inch laptop that offers decent performance and won't break the bank, Samsung's R720 comes highly recommended.