Review: Samsung RV520

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Review: Samsung RV520

Samsung RV520

The Samsung RV520 is a fantastic budget laptop with power and build quality that belies its meagre price tag. Anyone looking for something that can perform every day tasks with ease would do well to fork out for this portable.

As soon as you unbox the Samsung RV520, you get a feeling for the quality of the build. The silver and black lid is textured, and looks sleek and business-like, without being bland and boring. There’s little flex in the lid, and when you open it up, the smooth silver wrist rests and black isolated keyboard continue this quality look and feel.

Typing on the keyboard is comfortable, and the keys are well spaced, meaning that we were instantly able to start typing long documents without making regular mistakes. The track pad was smooth and precise, and while we’ve used better-quality mouse buttons, these are also well made.

Under the hood is a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i3 processor (clocked at 2.1GHz) that offers more than enough power for watching videos, playing rich web content such as web games, iPlayer and Flash web sites, as well as multitasking multiple applications. We’d recommend anyone to buy a Sandy Bridge machine and the Samsung RV520 shows that this doesn’t have to be expensive.

The reward is performance that will meet most home users’ expectations. In our lab tests of the processor and graphics, the results yielded exactly the performance we’d expect.

This laptop is faster than most budget machines and able to multi-task media, documents and web pages without problems. You won’t find much that will challenge the RV520, until you start editing pictures in Photoshop or editing your home movies, which would be slower than Intel Core i5-based machines.

Battery life was also strong, and the Samsung withstood our rigorous tests for 184 minutes, or around three hours. This is a good result, and if your day consists of just checking emails and surfing the web, you can expect it to last even longer.

Samsung has also included 6GB of RAM in the RV520, which, again, is significantly more than on most budget laptops, and means your applications will load faster, and your whole system will feel more responsive. We noticed fast resuming from sleep and quick loading of large applications, which is all down to that extra memory.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 184 minutes
Cinebench: 7634
3DMark 2007: 4064

Storage has also been given a big boost in the RV520, and there’s a whopping 750GB hard drive with tons of room for movies, music, photos and more. This is a lot more storage than we’d expect to find on a laptop in this price band and is another reason why this Samsung offers great value for money.

On reflection The 15.6-inch screen is one of the most reflective panels that we’ve seen on a laptop, and using the RV520 in our bright office was almost impossible. If you’re a mobile worker, or have your laptop positioned near big windows, it would be advisable to think twice before purchasing.

The Samsung played HD movies without any problems, but it was here that the screen let the side down again. The problem is that, while the picture was clear and pin sharp, the colours were flat and devoid of vibrancy. While playing our HD videos was technically not a problem for the Samsung RV520, we wouldn’t recommend this as a laptop for movie lovers.

Interestingly, the Samsung was equipped with some built-in software, which recognised when a movie was being played and enhanced the display to ‘Movie Colour Mode.’ This didn’t help the problem, though and looks like an admission from Samsung that colour vibrancy is an issue on this model.

The Samsung weighs 2.7kg, which means it’s easily carried in a bag, but people who spend their life flitting from place to place will want something lighter, and the RV520 is definitely not ultra-portable.

The Samsung RV520 is a fantastic budget laptop that can handle home computing and business tasks with ease. The Sandy Bridge processor provides enough power to enjoy media, pictures and music and the keyboard and build quality are good enough to work comfortably on.

It’s not brilliant for movies, and anyone looking to get creative will come up short against the low-end Intel Core i3 processor, but for most consumers, this is a highly recommended purchase.

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520

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Lenovo’s ThinkPad range is traditionally aimed at business users, but has recently taken a more consumer-friendly turn, with less imposing builds and price tags. The ThinkPad Edge E520 is one of the more powerful laptops in the range and can keep you entertained on the move as well as at home.

The excellent performance is down to the latest Intel Sandy Bridge technology. This means you can do almost anything on this laptop, with incredibly fast response rates. Even complex editing software opens in seconds and happily runs alongside web browsers, media players and other applications. You won’t need to replace this laptop for a long time.

This laptop also scored high in our graphical tests, beaten only narrowly by the Acer Aspire 5750G. We tested out some recent games and found they ran smoothly, although we occasionally had to turn down detail levels.

You can also check out and play around with your photos or home movies. Of course, if you’d rather relax with a film, the Lenovo won’t let you down. High-definition (HD) films play perfectly and look good on the 15.6-inch widescreen display.

However, while many other laptops use Super-TFT screens, which use a glossy surface layer to produce richer colours, the Lenovo has a matt TFT display. Images aren’t quite as vibrant as a result but, on the flipside, the screen isn’t reflective, so you can use the laptop outside.

If you do want a portable to keep you entertained out of the home, this laptop has a lot going for it. Firstly, while the Toshiba Satellite L730-10G is a fair bit lighter, the Lenovo’s solid frame weighs just 2.5kg. We comfortably carried it around all day in a backpack.

Even better, we were able to watch an entire three-hour movie before the battery died, and lighter use will prolong the battery life by almost two hours.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 183 minutes
Cinebench: 9431
3DMark 2006: 7167

An isolation-style keyboard is in place. It’s one of our favourites with firmly set keys that are very comfortable to type on. A separate numeric keypad is included, along with various shortcuts – you can lock the laptop, search your files or bring up the calculator with a press of a button.

Our only complaint is that the Left Ctrl and the Function keys have been swapped around. This won’t bother most people, but anyone who uses Windows shortcuts will be constantly frustrated when they hit the Function key by mistake.

Love or hate?

Lenovo thinkpad edge e520 review

The touchpad covers a wide area and you get the trademark nipple in the centre of the keyboard, which can also be used to move the on-screen cursor. We can’t stand the thing, but we’re sure that some people out there might prefer it.

Features are comprehensive, from the 500GB of storage to the eSATA port which can be used to transfer data at high speeds with external hard drives. There’s also an ExpressCard slot for expanding the laptop’s potential, but most people will never use it.

The ThinkPad Edge E520 is a mobile machine that’s as good for work as it is for entertainment. If you need something to keep you busy on the move, this is one of the best laptops here.

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