From elite gaming machines that cost more than a secondhand car, to equally pricey ultraportables using exotic materials, there are plenty of fancy laptop choices if you have the money. However, most folks just want something that does the job for email, web-browsing and the odd game or movie. While 15in models like the Dell XPS 15 are a good compromise between screen size and portability, if you're looking for an affordable desktop replacement, Samsung's 17.3in RV720 might be just the ticket.
Though it’s available for a bargaintastic £406, the RV720 doesn’t look or feel cheap. While there’s no metal used in its construction, Samsung has thankfully steered clear of cheap plastics and glossy finishes (which it failed to do as recently as with the RF711). The lid sports a ridged texture that not only provides a secure grip and prevents unsightly fingerprints, but is also far more scratch-resistant than most alternatives. Ergonomically we’re really loving this finish, and visually it’s also very attractive, with a two-tone black and silver look that sets it apart from the uni-lid crowd.
Opening the laptop up, we’re greeted by a mostly matt interior, aside from the screen and keyboard surround – neither of which are areas you’re likely to be touching often. The only finger smudge hazard are the chromed buttons on the touchpad, which don’t fit in all that well aesthetically either. Matt black might have been a better choice. Still, it’s encouraging when this is our only criticism.
While it’s not even close to something like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, build quality is likewise on a level far above what you might expect for the price. Plastics used are solid throughout, and though the lid is somewhat flexible, it’s not unduly so. We’re especially impressed by both the solid hinge action and the total absence of flex in the keyboard area, two points on which even expensive laptops can fall down. The one disadvantage to its sturdy construction is that this model weighs in at a not inconsiderable 2.6kg, but that’s still relatively light for a 17in machine.
Connectivity shows the first signs of this being a ‘budget’ machine, with USB 3.0 not making the cut. However, it’s important to remember that many consumers may never use the extra bandwidth this offers over its predecessor, and what’s on offer will be plenty for the target market. On the left we have Gigabit Ethernet, twin USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI for video, headphone and microphone jacks, and an SDXC card reader. On the right you'll find the DVD rewriter and a third USB 2 port. In a yet another nice surprise, Bluetooth 3 joins Wi-Fi N in handling the wireless side of things.