Samsung R720 review

5 Oct 2009

Samsung's latest desktop replacement has a huge, high-resolution 17.3in display - and a tiny, tiny price tag

Price when reviewed 
566
5

You might not be able to tell from the picture, but Samsung's R720 is one seriously big laptop. If you're looking for something portable, there are many better choices available.

Yet it's impressive just how much laptop Samsung has managed to deliver for so little cash. Corners do, of course, have to be cut at this price, but while the R720 drops the R620's Blu-ray and draft-n wireless, neither is a critical loss.

In fact, in most other regards, the R720 matches or exceeds its stablemate blow for blow. The processor might be inferior in name - it's an Intel Core 2 Duo T4300 rather than the T6500 in the R620 - but it's equal in performance terms, scoring an acceptable 1.00 in our benchmarks. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 GPU is identical, and made short shrift of Crysis with an average of 40fps.

Turn your attention to the sizable 17.3in display and there's more to like. Unlike the common 1,366 x 768 resolution displays, the R720 goes up to 1,600 x 900. Quality is noticeably improved over its sibling too, with colour and contrast making a much better fist of our test photos.

Even the speakers - an often neglected part in any laptop, let alone one costing less than £500 exc VAT - are rather good. There's plenty of volume, surprising clarity, and a little bit of low-end weight to keep instruments sounding full and wholesome.

It's pretty heavy, weighing in at 2.97kg, but that's a good deal lighter than you'd expect given its sizable, jet-black frame. And it's made of stern stuff: there's a fair amount of flex in the huge lid, but the base feels stiff and reassuringly strong. Even its battery life is fair at 4hrs 11mins.

If we were to pick out any area for improvement, it would be the keyboard. It isn't bad - the layout is sensible - but it suffers from a light, overly plasticky feel.

Despite this, the R720 is a solid, affordable all-rounder. The high-resolution display and balanced performance make for a great budget desktop replacement. If the keyboard was just that bit better, we'd have whole-heartedly endorsed it.

Details

Price ex VAT £492
Price inc VAT £566
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 413 x 271 x 44mm (WDH)
Weight 2.970kg
Travelling weight 3.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T4300
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Fujitsu MHZ2320BH G2
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-L633B
Battery capacity 4,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 11min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 23min
Overall application benchmark score 1.00
3D performance (crysis) low settings 40fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery Partition
Software supplied CyberLink DVDSuite, CyberLink YouCam