Samsung’s latest multimedia laptop – the R720 – is a surprising piece of machinery. Priced at under £800 and packing features often left unseen in laptops with a significantly higher price tag, the Korean conglomerate’s latest creation is one of the most impressive and cost-effective notebooks we’ve seen in the last few years.
Despite being a common addition in many high-end consumer PCs, Blu-ray support is relatively limited in laptops and ultra-portable computers. One reason for the weak support is the poor screen resolution of many consumer portable; the average notebook screen barely reaches the pixel density required for true HD playback.
And while the R720‘s screen has that same limitation – its maximum resolution falls slightly below full 1080p HD – it remains one of the most effective multimedia laptops out there. Sporting a Blu-ray drive and capable of quickly burning DVDs, it’s one of the most capable laptops we’ve tested.
Power is provided by an Intel P7450 dual-core processor, which offers reasonable multitasking performance and enough juice for the latest gaming titles. A healthy dose of RAM and an ATI Radeon HD 4650 graphics card round out performance, making the R720 a surprisingly competitive gaming laptop.
It’s an experience that’s dramatically improved by the inclusion of a full seventeen-inch display. The R720 boasts one of the most usable and vivid displays we’ve seen, bested only by Apple’s Macbook Pro 17 – a notebook which costs almost three times as much as the Samsung. While falling slightly short of full HD resolutions, it’s a great display for watching movies and online video.
The R720 is a reasonable workstation laptop, with a numeric keyboard and large touchpad making basic office computing and internet browsing simple and comfortable. The keyboard itself is quite comfortable, though it doesn’t use the isolated design we’ve grown to expect from consumer laptops. Usability is great, and despite using standard black plastic the enclosure feels quite robust.
Despite its prowess as a gaming laptop and media centre, the R720 does have some clear flaws. The seventeen-inch display and sizeable keyboard make portability limited, while a three-hour battery lifespan give the R720 questionable usefulness as an around-town laptop. When used as a media centre the battery’s longevity drops even further, giving the R720 limited potential as a travel laptop.
However, its combination of slick and professional design, reasonable power, and huge potential as a multimedia centre make the R720 one of our favourite budget media laptops. We tested it through almost every office situation and found it to perform remarkably well, making it just as adept and usable as a workstation as it is for Blu-ray movie playback.
If portability is a non-issue, the R720 is one of the finest laptops you’ll find for under £1,000. At three kilograms and larger than a business binder, it’s certainly not the first laptop you’d choose for a lengthy vacation. However, it is the first model we’d pick for inexpensive, flexible, and stress-free home computing.