In terms of design, the RF711 is attractive though it
doesn’t quite manage the premium feel of some high-end competitors. On its lid,
only the chromed Samsung logo provides relief from the plain, glossy black
plastic. Fingerprints and other marks will definitely be an issue here, unlike
with the Envy 3D, which was the last premium 17.3in laptop we looked at. Compared to
Samsung’s Duralumin-clad Series 9 900X3A, the RF711 doesn’t exactly exude class, but then that’s
hardly a fair comparison considering this same chassis is used in a sub-£500
machine while the Series 9 will set you back well over £1,000.
Opening the RF711 up reveals a far more attractive and
practical inside. The screen’s bezel is still glossy black plastic, but a
dotted texture provides both visual variety and prevents fingerprints from
being as visible.
Moving on to the base, it’s finished in a combination of
gunmetal and silver plastics that look just like real metal from a distance.
The smooth, semi-matt finish feels quite pleasant and doesn’t suffer from
finger or palm prints, while some subtle blue LEDs for power, wireless and
status indicators enhance the relatively minimalist finish.
The only incongruous touch is its chromed hinges,
which don’t match the silver used elsewhere in this laptop’s interior.
Build quality is decent, though again the chassis betrays
its budget coverage with slight creak and some unwanted flex. However, there’s
not even a hint of flex on the keyboard, a problem many rivals do fall prey to.
Getting to usability, the matt black, isolation/chiclet
keyboard features a flawless layout, with our favourite touch being the
secondary Fn key right next to the cursor keys which give easy access to screen
brightness and volume adjustments (there’s also a separate set of additional volume
controls which join a handy wireless ‘switch’ next to the power button).
Key feedback is good, especially for a ‘shallow’ keyboard.
Keys are well-spaced and offer a positive click. The whole keyboard is recessed
slightly, allowing your palms to rest comfortably and flat on the palm rest,
and we didn’t find the touchpad interfered with typing. Overall, we’d be happy
to use this as our main word-processing machine.
Thankfully, the touchpad holds up just as well. Naturally it
supports multi-touch and offers a large area in which to execute gesture
controls. Its surface is smooth though not slippery, and its two individual
buttons offer an assured if slightly shallow action. Again it doesn’t match
up to the glass ‘button-less’ pad on the Samsung Series 9 900X3A, but it’s still nice to use.