So the R730 is best described as functional, but for some that's just fine and the R730 is both great to use and well-made. Decent quality plastics are used throughout and the chassis as a whole exudes assiduous workmanship.
Best of all, however, particularly if you find smaller laptops somewhat cramped, the R730 sports a roomy keyboard with a full number pad. Keys feel a little on the light side, but the feedback is crisp and positive and the layout is pretty much spot-on. Odd backlighting aside, the touchpad is very good, too. Its surface is large and smooth, while the two individual buttons (Samsung doesn't use the sometimes unreliable rocker-style buttons) are snappy and receptive.
Another boon for usability is the screen. Its large 17.3in size certainly helps, but so does the 1,600 x 900 native resolution. It might not please the purists who demand a Full HD capable display, but for regular folk it provides a nice balance between readability and desktop real-estate - it's certainly more comfortable to use than similar 1,366 x 768 resolution laptops.
As for the screen's quality, it's about what you'd expect. Colours are quite nice, it's bright and it's sharp, but shallow viewing angles make it hard for more than a couple of people to view the screen at the same time.
One element of the R730 that really struggles is the speakers. It's never been a Samsung speciality really, but the tinny, imprecise output of the R730 is spectacularly disappointing. Anything beyond an online video clip is best avoided.
As ever, we tested battery life using Mobile Mark 2007. It's not a key factor for a large laptop like this, but the R730 lasted over three hours in the Productivity benchmark and just short of two in the more intensive DVD playback test - both good results for this kind of laptop.
There's nothing particularly outstanding about the Samsung R730, but it's a solid, well-made machine that offers good value. Were it £30 or so cheaper it would score higher, but nonetheless it's a decent entry-level option.