Samsung Series 3

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 Samsung Series 3

Overview

Hot on the heels of Samsung’s Series 7 and Series 9 laptops comes the more budget-friendly Samsung Series 3 NP305V5AI.

This AMD-powered portable PC uses less powerful components than its older siblings, but comes in at half the cost too, making it better suited to families and users with more basic needs.

After reviewing a long line of black and silver laptops, the Samsung Series 3 was immediately refreshing, with its friendly blue design. This colourful metallic finish covers the lid and the keyboard, with a white interior giving it a fresh appearance.

Anyone with small children will be relieved to hear it’s solidly built too, so can withstand a bashing by tiny fists. The Samsung Series 3 laptop’s palm rests are firm, and we only noticed a little flex around the DVD drive. The screen is held firm by some strong hinges, while the lid itself is rigid enough to absorb any bumps, to protect the display.

Samsung series 3 review

As usual, the laptop’s isolation-style keyboard is comfortable for all-day typing. Keys are firmly mounted and spaced apart to prevent typos, and none of them are particularly crushed – even the arrow keys are given generous space, instead of being crammed into a single row.

Spreadsheet lovers rejoice – the Samsung Series 3 laptop also has a numeric keypad for those sweaty number crunching sessions.

We did find the very centre of the board a little spongy, but while this cheapens the feel of the overall quality, it doesn’t impair your typing in any way.

The touchpad is similarly well-endowed, covering the full width of the palm rests. The smooth surface is responsive, and supports multi-touch gesturing for zooming in and out of photos and documents. If you rub your finger up and down the right-hand edge, you can also scroll through files.

At 2.5kg, the Samsung Series 3 is fairly average for a 15.6-inch laptop, proving light enough to throw in a backpack and carry around all day.

Specifications and performance

Specifications

Samsung series 3 review

If you’re constantly on the move and want a portable computer to keep you entertained or productive, the Samsung Series 3 is a great option. One massively useful feature is the matt 15.6-inch screen, which lacks the shiny gloss coating of many modern laptops. This might not seem like a big deal, but the difference when you’re outside is impressive.

While glossy Super-TFT displays are a massive pain to use outside, reflecting light straight back into your eyes, the Samsung Series 3’s screen is almost completely non-reflective. You can work on it even in hideously bright conditions.

This is also helped by the brightness levels of the display. Turned to maximum, the panel is comfortable to use even for extended periods. It’s vibrant enough to bring your photos and movies to life, although viewing angles are a little tight.

Cinephiles can enjoy HD movies on this PC laptop, with 1080p videos playing perfectly. Of course the 1366 x 768p resolution doesn’t produce the sharpest visuals, but we didn’t notice any grainy-looking images.

However, the Samsung Series 3’s built-in speakers are typically rubbish, lacking any real oomph. A gunfight in The Dark Knight sounded more like a barrel of damp firecrackers going off.

We love carrying our entire media collection with us wherever we roam, and the Samsung Series 3’s dual hard drives don’t disappoint. You get 750GB of storage – enough for hundreds of HD movies and hundreds of thousands of music albums. It’s definitely a generous amount, considering the relatively low cost of this laptop.

Features are a little slim on the ground, but you get three USB ports for hooking up your own peripherals, and both VGA and HDMI options for attaching an external monitor. Built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi means you can hook up to the internet.

Performance

Samsung series 3 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 7,198
3D Mark ’06: 5,330
Battery Eater ’05: 136 mins

The Samsung Series 3 laptop slashes its price by using budget components, compared to the Sandy Bridge-powered Series 7. This laptop features an AMD A6-3410MX quad-core processor, running at 1.6GHz, backed up by 6GB of RAM.

Our Cinebench tests confirmed that the Samsung Series 3 isn’t much of a performance heavyweight. You can happily browse the web, tinker with word processing documents and enjoy your media, all at the same time, but anything more strenuous causes the odd stutter.

This will suit most families fine, but don’t expect a laptop that’ll last you for years to come.

The Samsung Series 3’s AMD chipset also handles graphics, and the integrated AMD Radeon HD 6480G GPU is surprisingly capable. Our 3D Mark score was comparable with many low-end dedicated graphics cards, and the Samsung Series 3 laptop can comfortably run older games.

New releases will struggle, however, so gamers should look to up their budget to find a computer with dedicated graphics.

On the other hand, if all you want to do is edit your photos and movies, and watch the occasional HD film, the Samsung Series 3 is a dependable laptop.

If you’re strapped for cash but want a more powerful machine, we’d recommend the Acer Aspire 5750G, which comes kitted out with Sandy Bridge processors. Not only that, it costs roughly the same as the Samsung Series 3.

Sadly, the battery life is less impressive. We were hoping for over three hours of life from a charge, as we got with the Samsung Series 7, but the Samsung Series 3 died after just 136 minutes of playing HD video on loop. This is below average for budget laptops like this, and means you’ll have to drag the adapter with you on longer journeys.

Limit yourself to less intensive activities, such as office software and web browsing, and you’ll eek out three hours. It’s still unimpressive, and definitely disappointing.

On a more positive note, the Samsung Series 3 is a quiet machine. And we didn’t notice any hotspots during use – keep the vents clear and it stays reassuringly cool.

Verdict

Samsung series 3 review

The Samsung Series 3 is a cut-price laptop that banks on the latest AMD quad-core technology, but does it set itself apart from the budget laptop hordes?

We liked

The Samsung Series 3 NP305V5AI’s design is appealing, considering so many laptops at this price point feature a dull black or silver finish. The metallic blue lid and keyboard stand out among its peers, and the Samsung Series 3 is solid enough to survive a reasonable amount of abuse.

Just as colourful is the 15.6-inch widescreen panel. It’s also comfortably bright and shuns a glossy coating, making it perfect for working outdoors.

The keyboard is comfortable to work on all day, or if you’d rather kick back with a film, the Samsung Series 3 plays HD films smoothly.

The integrated AMD graphics are surprisingly capable, and while you can’t play recent games, you can certainly waste hours on older or more basic titles.

Video editing is also perfectly possible.

Finally, you can carry a sizeable media collection, thanks to the 750GB of internal storage.

We disliked

However, the AMD processor is still highly limiting, and will quickly become out of date. This isn’t uncommon for a budget machine, but the likes of the Acer Aspire 5750G offers Intel Sandy Bridge performance for the same price.

We were also massively disappointed by the Samsung Series 3’s battery life, which barely lasts long enough for a two-hour film. If you suffer a long commute like us, you’ll need to carry your charger and power it up at work.

Final verdict

By cutting down the specs of the Series 7 laptop, Samsung has produced a more pocket-friendly laptop that should appeal to families and anyone looking for dependable budget performance.

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Samsung 200B5A

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 Samsung 200B5A

Samsung has a great reputation for top-quality machines at great prices. The 200B5A adds to the list and is a usable and powerful business laptop let down only slightly by limited graphics.

While the staid, black chassis won’t win any awards for design, it provides a neutral look to suit all tastes. The hard-wearing plastics and firm panels provide a sturdy feel and the whole machine feels extremely well put together.

The thick screen panel is also extremely firm and Samsung claims it will withstand up to 500kg of pressure. As with all but the Alienware M11x, this is not a laptop built with portability in mind. At 2.5kg it is quite a heavy machine and you won’t want to use it as your main laptop if you travel a lot. This is backed up by a 136-minute battery life that provides only basic mobility.

The excellent user interface is a pleasure to work with and this is a great machine to use for extended periods. While the spill-resistant keyboard shuns the use of an isolated design, the firm keys, comfortable typing action and smooth movement ensure the board is quiet, accurate and responsive.

The touchpad is slightly less reactive and feels sluggish at first. Once you increase the pointer speed in Windows 7, though, it feels a bit sharper. The mouse buttons, on the other hand, are excellent. They are easy to access when working at speed and respond well, no matter how hard or soft you press them.

Another strength is the Samsung’s great screen. The 15.6-inch panel uses a glossy coating to improve colour and contrast, but it is the least reflective example we’ve seen. Whether working in direct sunlight or under harsh lighting, you can always see the screen clearly, with images rendered sharply and brightly.

Capable performance

The Samsung’s Intel Celeron P4600 processor means that it is outperformed by its Intel Core-powered rivals, but the difference is not as vast as expected. At no time did we see any notable slowdown and the Samsung runs quickly and efficiently at all times.

Graphics performance is where things fall down slightly. While not nearly as limited as the Toshiba Satellite Pro C660-1UX, the integrated Intel graphics card is very underpowered and won’t suit gaming or media editing. There is enough power for enjoying your photos and videos, however, which is sure to suit most people’s needs.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 136 minutes
Cinebench: 5209
3DMark 2006: 1237

Samsung 200b5a

In terms of storage, the Samsung is capable, if unexceptional. The 320GB hard drive will hold large collections of music, photos and videos, but is bettered by the Acer Aspire 5943G, Advent Monza E1 and Lenovo B570. Most users will be more than satisfied with the storage on offer, though, and the anti-shock drive protects against damage if the laptop is dropped.

You can also back up your files to DVD and CD using the built-in DVD rewriter, making it easy to create movie, music and photo discs. A seven-in-one card reader is also in place and offers broad media card compatibility, letting you share files with a wide range of the most popular multimedia card formats.

While the B200B5A is not the most stylish or powerful laptop, its resilience, great screen visibility and strong usability make it an easy laptop to like. If you need a tough and capable machine that will stand up to years of demanding daily use, then this is certainly a great choice.

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Review: Asus Eee Pad Slider

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Review: Asus Eee Pad Slider

Overview and design

We were totally taken by the Eee Pad Transformer when it came out because it did something different to the iPad, and so gave itself room to breathe away from the tablet big guns.

Now its brother, the Asus Eee Pad Slider has arrived, and manages to stand out in much the same way.

The specs are fairly typical for tablets these days. The Eee Pad Slider features a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip, offering dual-core power and good graphics performance, which powers Android 3.1 out of the box (though you can upgrade to 3.2 as soon as you get it connected to the internet, and an Android 4.0 update is on its way).

There’s 1GB of RAM to keep multitasking smooth, along with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, though a microSD card slot means you can boost this. Wi-Fi is present up to 802.11n, as is Bluetooth.

The screen is a generous 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS affair, so there’s plenty of space for Android 3.2 to show us what it’s got. We’ll go into full details about the screen’s quality on the Performance page.

Asus eee pad slider

Of course, behind the screen is where things get interesting. By grabbing the top of it, you can pull it up, so it slides back and sits up at an angle to reveal the built-in keyboard.

The front of the device is glossy black with a silver rim, like a lot of tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but the keyboard and rear case of the Eee Pad Slider are a kind of chocolate colour, with a matt finish.

Asus eee pad slider

It’s an unusual direction for tablets, but one that we think works for this one. The more we used the Eee Pad Slider, the more we found it to be an office-focussed tablet, and the aesthetic really fits that. Overall, it bears far more of a resemblance to a BlackBerry Boldhandset than the iPhone, and we doubt thats coincidence.

Asus eee pad slider

The build quality of the two halves of the Eee Pad Slider is excellent, feeling totally solid and without any noticeable give. Our only (admittedly very mild) concerns are with the joins between the two.

We don’t expect the hinge to break on anyone for no good reason, but the way the screen just sits loose and wobbly when in the upright position is odd compared how solid the rest of the device is.

There’s also a ribbon connecting the screen to the keyboard. While we’ve no doubt that this offers a huge power consumption advantage over using Bluetooth to connect the two, it’s an obvious weak point if your Slider should take an unexpected trip to the ground.

Around the sides, you’ve not only got your microSD card slot, but also the Lock key, a volume rocker, a reset button that’s far too easy to press, a mini-HDMI port for video output, Asus’s proprietary connection for USB connectivity and charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size USB port.

Asus eee pad slider

Having two separate sliding halves in this tablet inevitably means it’s a lot thicker than the competition. At 273 x 180.3 x 17.3mm, it’s around twice as thick as an iPad 2, and at 960g it’s around 50 percent heavier.

The weight difference really does tip it from being comfortable to hold to being just too heavy to keep in one hand for long. Between this and the slide-out function, which puts the screen at a great angle for both desk and lap use, it becomes clear that the Eee Pad Slider is less of a competitor for tablets like the iPad, and is more targeting replacing netbooks and smaller laptops.

The Eee Pad Slider looks set to be available for around £450 in its 32GB version, which isn’t as cheap as the keyboardless half of the Eee Pad Transformer, but is good value compared to most other Android tablets.

Features

Asus eee pc slider

The obvious major feature draw for the Eee Pad Slider is its slide-out keyboard. Offering a wide range of keys, it’s got options for Home, Back and Menu, as well as a few keys to help you quickly conserve power if you’re concerned about your battery life. Specifically, you can turn Bluetooth on and off, turn Wi-Fi on and off, and adjust the brightness.

Asus has taken the same route as other manufacturers when it comes to customising Android on tablets, and has included a carefully picked selection of apps and an original widget to make the Slider stand out.

Asus eee pc slider

The Asus Launcher is a slick widget that displays various bits of information, including the last website you left open, the currently playing music, calendar appontments, the weather, the date, and a slideshow of your photos.

Asus eee pc slider

It’s a lot of stuff to cram into a widget, but it works really well thanks to a simple, no-nonsense design. We certainly prefer it to the utilitarian launcher widget included on the Lenovo IdeaPad K1.

As far as the apps go, the most useful is surely Polaris Office, given the nature of this tablet. It’s a really good inclusion, with a slick, surprisingly powerful interface and options to create text documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Asus eee pc slider

The word processor is particularly impressive, with tools for indenting, reflowing text, including media, tweaking fonts and loads more. In fact, we used it and the Slider’s keyboard to write this entire review, with no problems in general (though a regular auto-save function would be gratefully received).

Cleverly, Asus is including an impressive cloud deal with the Slider. Asus’ WebStorage offers unlimited online storage free for a year with the Slider. The app for it is easy to use, though it’s a shame that you’re unlikely to see it integrated into apps in the way Dropbox often is.

Asus eee pc slider

Amazon’s Kindle client is included for readers, as is Zinio for buying and reading magazines, along with Press Reader for getting the newspapers right on your device. They’re a killer trio of apps, all offering a great array of content, even if Zinio and Press Reader don’t give you the flexibility in the publications that you get from Apple’s Newsstand on the iPad.

Asus has also beefed up the built-in media options with MyNet, which adds media streaming both to and from the Slider.

The USB port on the side adds a few handy features, too. The first is that, like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, you can plug in a USB mouse and control the tablet that way. If youre doing a lot of word processing/spreadsheet work, you might find this quite useful.

It also works a USB host for mass storage, so you can plug in USB drives or memory cards (with an adapter) and use the included File Manager app to browse and move files.

On top of all this are the usual Google apps, including the Android Market. Nvidia’s Tegra Zone is also bundled, making it easy to find games, if you want. No games are included, which is unsurprising considering how this tablet feels more work-focussed.

Performance

Asus eee pc slider

The Asus Eee Pad Slider earns itself a huge tick in the performance column in one very simply way: this is the smoothest Android tablet we’ve seen yet.

Scrolling between Home screens is as slick as you like, the app list flashes up and away in an instant, apps load quickly, the multitasking list is smooth and stable – this is Android at its very best, for general use, without a doubt.

Asus eee pc slider

It still suffers from Android’s common imperfections, though. When zooming or panning in the browser, it’s fast and responsive, but there can be a stutter, which makes it difficult to be precise. Sometimes, particlarly in the browser, there will be a mysterious lag when typing in the URL bar, which is frustrating.

The browser is fast to load sites, certainly, but consistently lagged just behind an iPad 2 running iOS 5 in head-to-head tests (both with Flash turned on and off). Android 4.0 looks set to boost Android tablets in this area, but that’s the situation as it stands.

Asus eee pc slider

And yes, Flash 11 is available as ever from the Android Market. And yes, browsing a page with Flash content will drastically reduce the responsiveness of the browser. In addition, many iPlayer videos had an odd black mark that appeared occasionally, while going between fullscreen and a smaller window within the browser often caused the audio to go slightly out of sync.

However, the videos did play, and play smoothly, so for those of us who can’t live without Flash, performance is about as good as we can get at the moment.

Asus eee pc slider

Media stored on the device played impeccably. HD video in particular was absolutely brilliant, with both 1080p and 720p files playing back smoothly. The killer is the crisp, clear screen, though. It’s absolutely perfect for video, and the way the screen sits up on the Slider when the screen is out makes this an ideal tablet to keep you entertained on a long journey (well, save for the battery life, as we’ll explain in a moment).

That screen really is the best thing about the Eee Pad Slider. At 1280 x 800, it’s nice and high resolution, with text appearing crisp and easy to read. More than that, though, colours are vibrant and hugely appealing, and the viewing angles are excellent. It’s also brighter than a lot of Android tablets. It’s one of the best tablet screens we’ve seen, to put it simply.

Of course, the keyboard is a big feature for the Eee Pad Slider, since it’s pretty much its reason for existing. And the good news is that is isn’t bad. The keys are fairly small, but a nice gap between them makes them easy to find without concentrating.

Asus eee pc slider

In fact, we found it easy to hit the right key first time over 90 per cent of the keyboard, despite its size. You will inevitably miss more keys than you would on a full-size keyboard, but no more so than other small, portable keyboards.

Most of the 10 per cent where we weren’t hitting the right keys was hunting for things like Control and Alt, which are slightly displaced because of the Home, Back and Menu keys.

The only really annoying aspect was that it’s ludicrously easy to hit the up arrow button instead of the right Shift key. We did it constantly throughout this review, and it gets more annoying every time.

You will, of course, come to accomodate the layout as you get used to it, but even after hours of use, we were still nudging that damn up arrow.

Still, though, we give the keyboard a thumbs up, and the angle of the screen makes the while thing reasonably comfortable to use. Any small mobile keyboard has layout foibles, so we don’t begrudge them too much, even if they can be annoying.

Asus eee pc slider

The last big thing for tablets is battery life, and this is probably the Slider’s weakest area. It’s rated for eight hours, but when we tried streaming video over Wi-Fi with the screen’s brightness turned all the way up, we got just under five hours out of it.

This isn’t terrible, though. You can expect a good deal more battery life than that if you’re just using it type documents, for example. Though it’s certainly well behind what the iPad can give you, let’s remember that this is more focussed on the netbook/small laptop market than the iPad, and compared to most laptops this is great battery life in a far lighter package.

And as is so often the fashion, the Eee Pad Slider features front and rear cameras. The 1.2-megapixel front camera is as good as it needs to be, picking up a decent amount of light. The angle of the screen when slid out will give the person you’re chatting to a lovely view of your nostrils, but it works well enough.

YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fH8sE-xIRM

Asus eee pad slider

The rear five-megapixel camera turned out to be surprisingly good on a sunny day, though the 720p video footage it takes was rather weak, with a huge amount of artefacting ruining any semblance of detail.

Asus eee pc sliderClick here for full-size image

Verdict

Asus eee pc slider

It became clear to us when using the Eee Pad Slider that Asus isn’t going after quite the same market as the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’s too heavy and too thick to be in quite the same bracket, because of its keyboard.

But as an alternative to a small laptop, it really comes into its own. Suddenly it seems small, and light. Fast, too, compared many lower-powered Windows 7 machines. It even comes with a great office suite ready to go. This is a tablet for the office, the desk at home, or the briefcase, and it really works.

We liked:

The screen is absolutely brilliant, which is always the first thing you want to see a tablet get right.

The same goes for the touch control and overall performance. Though smoothness in the browser and some other areas isn’t quite as perfect as the iPad, this is a more than capable machine.

The way the keyboard slides out puts the screen at an ideal angle for on a desk or your lap – something that’s clearly been thought through. And the keyboard itself is pretty good for a small mobile offering; good enough to write this review on.

The included apps are very useful, but quite understated, too. It’s not bloatware – this is a great suite to have available from the off.

We disliked:

The only real disappointment with the Eee Pad Slider is the battery life. It’s well below the likes of the iPad, and we’d hoped for better. As we said before, though, it holds its own against the kind of laptops it’s most likely to replace, so it’s not a deal breaker.

Similarly, it’s chunkier and heavier than other leading tablets, which is a shame, but inevitable when you consider the extra mechanics and casing required for its two halves. And again, it compares favourably to laptops.

Our other gripes are only very minor foibles, really.

The keyboard is still harder to use than a full-size one, even if it’s very good overall. Some people may never find it comfortable, but this is true of all small keyboards.

Android still needs some spit and polish here and there – hopefully Android 4.0 will bring at least some of that, and we’re really looking forward to seeing the Slider with future versions of Android on.

Verdict:

As a tablet, this is a slightly flawed gem with a gimmick that not only makes it stand out, but makes it genuinely useful.

But as a laptop replacement, this is nippy, light, versatle and hugely desirable. As tablets increasingly become work tools, we fully expect the Eee Pad Slider to be right at the forefront of the revolution, thanks to its smooth performance, stunning screen, handy software and more-than-adequate keyboard.

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Review: Acer Aspire 5830T

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Review: Acer Aspire 5830T

Although billed as a business laptop, Acer’s Aspire 5830T also suits as a family laptop, or simply an entertainment machine.

One of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors runs the show, and is comfortably powerful enough to handle various applications at the same time. We played with complex editing software, surfed the web and enjoyed some 1980s pop music, all at once, with no slowdown.

The lack of a dedicated GPU means you won’t be able to play the latest games but you can play around with photos and even our home movies using software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements and Corel VideoStudio Pro, while high-definition movies play smoothly and look fantastic. The built-in speakers do a surprisingly decent job, too.

The 15.6-inch widescreen display is great for both work and play. It’s reasonably bright and pleasingly vibrant, which brings your photos and videos to life. The only downside is the glossy Super-TFT finish, which is highly reflective.

Still, if you plan on taking this laptop out and about, you won’t have too much trouble packing its slender chassis into a bag. At 2.5kg, it’s also light enough to carry around without cracking your spine.

We did notice some flex around the edges, but the lid is solid enough to protect the laptop on the move. You can work on battery power for four to five hours if you limit yourself to basic office tasks, but battery life drops to just under three hours when watching a movie.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 165 minutes
Cinebench: 7464
3DMark 2006: 4176

Comfortable keyboard

Typists are well served by the isolation-style keyboard, with keys poking out through individual holes to separate them out. This is great news for touch-typists, as you’re less likely to hit the wrong key by mistake. With the exception of the dinky arrow keys, the board is well sized and even finds room for a separate numeric keypad.

The touchpad is a little too compact, but is smooth, responsive and the touch-sensitive scrollbar is useful for jumping through documents and web pages.

A generous 640GB hard drive gives you plenty of space for carrying your files and software, as well as a huge media collection. You can store hundreds of thousands of songs and photos, or hundreds of full-length movies.

For a business laptop there are surprisingly few other features. Four USB ports can be used to connect peripherals, including a speedy USB 3.0 port that can charge portable devices even when the laptop is hibernating. You also have VGA and HDMI ports for attaching a monitor or projector, for presentations or showing off your pics and movies.

While the Aspire 5830T offers nothing remarkable compared to other mid-price professional laptops, it also has very few flaws to speak of. If you need a machine to keep you productive and entertained on the go, there are much worse options.

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Review: Samsung RV720

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With its 17.3-inch screen, the Samsung RV720 is a large laptop. It isn’t quite the chunkiest, with a surprisingly slim body considering the girth, but at 2.8kg it is pretty heavy.

While it can feasibly be carried around if needed, it works much better as a desktop replacement machine, especially given the mediocre battery life. For a family machine that will sit on your desk at home, this is a great option.

We loved the half-metallic, half-gloss design. The brushed aluminium palmrests are resistant to fingerprints and smudges and also reassuringly solid. We pushed and prodded the laptop as much as we dared and found no weak points.

Like most of the new laptops around, one of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors provides excellent performance. It’s the same model as found in the Acer Aspire 5750G, but while the Acer has a mammoth 6GB of memory, this Samsung opts for a more modest 4GB.

The difference in our benchmark tests was minimal, however. Only the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520 and Medion Akoya E6221 were significantly more powerful with their beefy Core i5 processors.

We found we could run all kinds of applications at once with no significant impact on performance. Whether you enjoy catching up with friends on social networking sites, watching the latest films in high definition (HD), or touching up your holiday snaps, this laptop can handle it.

However, the basic integrated graphics means that you’re limited when it comes to complex multimedia tasks. For instance, while you can play older games with high detail levels and get a smooth frame-rate, the latest titles will stutter and crawl. Gamers are better off with the Acer 5750G or Lenovo ThinkPad E520.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 158 minutes
Cinebench: 7262
3DMark 2006: 3267

Movie lovers will rejoice, however, at the large and crisp 17.3-inch widescreen display. Photos and films look fantastic on the glossy panel, with rich colours and pleasing brightness levels.

Audio is also acceptable, although music and sound does distort occasionally on top volume. As with most laptops, you’re better off with an external pair of speakers or a set of headphones.

Excellent keyboard

Samsung rv720

If you spend large amounts of time emailing friends, you’ll need a comfortable keyboard. Thankfully, the Samsung’s board has a lot of space to work with, thanks to the wide chassis. Keys are well spaced, using the popular isolation style. This means that each key protrudes through its own individual hole in the frame, with the resulting gaps between them meaning you’re less likely to miss-hit keys. This is also one of the firmest boards in this group.

Like the Acer and Medion, a generous 640GB of storage gives you plenty of space to hold your files, software and media such as songs and photos.

VGA and HDMI ports can be used to connect external monitors and televisions, if the screen isn’t quite big enough to satisfy you, while an SD card reader is a quick and easy way of accessing your photos and other data from your mobile devices.

You also get built-in Bluetooth, which can be used to connect compatible headsets or transfer data with other devices.

If you’ve been hunting for a desktop replacement machine to entertain you and your family at home, the Samsung RV720 is well worth considering. The excellent performance and crisp, colourful 17.3-inch screen are highlights, although the lack of dedicated graphics is a shame.

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Review: MSI FX720 Review

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So the British summer is having another shocker, and let’s face it, autumn will likely be just as grim. On that merry note, it’s well worth saving up some cash for a new entertainment machine to keep you occupied during those long, dark evenings, so you don’t have to resort to conversations with family members.

We’ve seen some excellent and unique multimedia laptops recently, from the sleek and powerful Dell XPS 15z, to the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G, with its detachable remote control touchpad. The MSI FX720 certainly has a lot of competition, but it comes with a less eye-watering price tag than many of its peers.

This laptop might be half the cost of its competitors, but it also lacks the slick and attractive design that most multimedia laptops boast. While the XPS 15z sports a beautiful brushed metal finish, the FX720 makes do with a black plastic frame. It isn’t exactly ugly, but it doesn’t give us those ‘must have’ vibes.

The body doesn’t feel too solid either. It won’t break or fall apart in your hands, but some areas, such as the palmrests, do flex under pressure.

With a weight of 3kg it can be carried around when needed, although we wouldn’t drag it out on the daily commute. It’s best used as a home machine that can be shifted between rooms.

Build quality might not be as strong as we’d like, but the FX720 has a firm keyboard that is comfortable to work on for long periods.

Keys are well laid out and a great size, including the arrow keys which are often squashed. The only casualty is the Return key, which is cropped to fit a single row.

The isolation-style layout means each key is separated from its neighbours by a strip of plastic. Touch typing is more accurate, as you’re less likely to hit the wrong key.

You also have a separate numeric keypad, in case you take a break from movies and games to work on your accounts.

Just above the keyboard is a row of shortcut buttons. These allow you to power down the display, start Windows Media Player, eject the DVD drive and change the power settings. You also have a user-defined shortcut key, for loading your favourite application.

MSI fx770

Although size might not matter, it’s hard to enjoy the latest blockbusters on a tiny laptop screen. Thankfully the MSI FX720 comes with a 17.3-inch widescreen display, so you won’t be squinting to make out the action.

Images are impressively sharp, whether you’re browsing your photos or watching a film. Although the 1600 x 900 resolution means you don’t get full 1080p visuals, we’d struggle to tell the difference when kicking back with an HD movie.

However, as with many recent media laptops, the base FX720 model doesn’t come fitted with a Blu-ray drive. You either have to make do with DVDs, or download your HD content from an online provider. Alternatively, you can stump up more cash for the Blu-ray option.

While the screen isn’t the brightest we’ve seen, it’s still vibrant enough to bring photos and films to life. Viewing angles are reasonable, but the glossy Super-TFT coating is highly reflective, so you should stay away from windows.

The in-built speakers are also surprisingly good, with enough volume to fill a small room. Whether we were watching a film or blasting out music, the sound quality was consistently strong, with no distortion. Of course, if you want to enjoy some serious bass, you should invest in an external pair of speakers.

While many multimedia laptops feature at least 620GB of storage, the FX720 settles for a 500GB hard drive. This fills up surprisingly quickly if you download a lot of HD movies and install loads of games, but external drives are cheap these days so it’s not a crucial factor.

Other features are rather slim. Four USB ports can be used to hook up peripherals, with two of them supporting USB 3.0 technology. VGA and HDMI connections allow you to attach monitors and televisions, if the screen isn’t satisfactory.

As expected, you have 802.11n Wi-Fi for connecting to wireless networks, and gigabit Ethernet if you need to hook up to a wired LAN.

MSI fx770

The MSI FX720 uses an Intel Core i5 2410M processor, which is one of the latest Sandy Bridge models. Backed up by 4GB of memory, you get strong mid-range performance. We ran a number of resource-sapping software suites and noticed little slowdown, even when we tried doing several things at once.

One of nVidia’s older GeForce GT 520M graphics cards still holds up well, with HD movies streaming perfectly. Media editing software also runs smoothly, so you can mess around with your home photos and video as much as you like.

When it comes to gaming, the FX720 isn’t quite as strong as we’d hoped. Older titles such as Half Life 2 run perfectly, but more recent, action-heavy games tend to stutter on the highest detail levels. If you want a gaming machine that’ll last you more than a few months, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

We were also a little disappointed by the overall performance compared to some other machines we’ve seen lately. While we weren’t expecting results comparable to the Dell XPS 15z or Acer Aspire Ethos laptops, which are twice the price of the FX720, there are better-value multimedia laptops available.

For instance, Dell’s Inspiron 15r has very similar specs for more than £100 less, while you can pick up the Lenovo IdeaPad Z570, which comes with a Blu-ray drive as standard, for just under £600. If you’re looking for a 17-inch multimedia laptop, we’d have to recommend HP’s Pavilion dv7 or the Samsung RF711 instead.

We also weren’t blown away by the FX720’s battery life. We know this laptop isn’t made for lugging around, but we barely made it through a two-hour film before the screen went black. Compare this to other multimedia laptops, which often last at least three hours, and it’s just another disappointment.

Benchmarks

CineBench 10: 9746
3D Mark 06: 6221
Battery Eater 05: 120 mins

MSI fx770

We’ve seen plenty of multimedia machines over the summer, and while some of them have been rather pricey, very few have disappointed. MSI’s FX720 has some tough competition but does it offer enough to warrant a purchase?

We liked

If you’re a cinebuff, or simply enjoy relaxing with the latest Michael Bay explode-a-thon, you’ll love the FX720’s excellent screen. It might not be the brightest panel, but it’s impressively sharp and brings images to life with its rich, deep colours.

Performance is strong enough for everyday use, with no irritating long load times or unexpected stuttering. The dedicated nVidia graphics card means you can get stuck into games, although you’ll need to turn down detail levels on more intensive titles.

If you’ve had enough of games and movies, you can stay productive with the firm isolation-style keyboard.

We disliked

Sadly, the FX720 is lacking that sleek, polished design that makes most multimedia laptops so desirable. We’ve seen laptops around this price point with solid, brushed metal bodies, so the lower cost is no real excuse.

Also, while performance is perfectly fine, there are better value laptops with similar specs out there. On the other hand, if you’re a gaming fan you should look to spend a little bit more on a laptop that will last you longer.

The 500GB hard drive is a little stingy, considering how many portables at this price point have 640GB or 750GB of storage. There’s also no Blu-ray drive, which quite a few media laptops have missed out recently.

Also, it might be an obvious point to make, but the FX720 is best left on a desk at home. The 3kg frame and two-hour battery life hamper portability, so look elsewhere if you need a machine for the daily commute.

With a sexy design and slightly better spec, the FX720 could have been a winner. The 17.3-inch screen is excellent, but there are better multimedia machines to be had for this price.

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Review: MSI FX720 Review

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So the British summer is having another shocker, and let’s face it, autumn will likely be just as grim. On that merry note, it’s well worth saving up some cash for a new entertainment machine to keep you occupied during those long, dark evenings, so you don’t have to resort to conversations with family members.

We’ve seen some excellent and unique multimedia laptops recently, from the sleek and powerful Dell XPS 15z, to the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G, with its detachable remote control touchpad. The MSI FX720 certainly has a lot of competition, but it comes with a less eye-watering price tag than many of its peers.

This laptop might be half the cost of its competitors, but it also lacks the slick and attractive design that most multimedia laptops boast. While the XPS 15z sports a beautiful brushed metal finish, the FX720 makes do with a black plastic frame. It isn’t exactly ugly, but it doesn’t give us those ‘must have’ vibes.

The body doesn’t feel too solid either. It won’t break or fall apart in your hands, but some areas, such as the palmrests, do flex under pressure.

With a weight of 3kg it can be carried around when needed, although we wouldn’t drag it out on the daily commute. It’s best used as a home machine that can be shifted between rooms.

Build quality might not be as strong as we’d like, but the FX720 has a firm keyboard that is comfortable to work on for long periods.

Keys are well laid out and a great size, including the arrow keys which are often squashed. The only casualty is the Return key, which is cropped to fit a single row.

The isolation-style layout means each key is separated from its neighbours by a strip of plastic. Touch typing is more accurate, as you’re less likely to hit the wrong key.

You also have a separate numeric keypad, in case you take a break from movies and games to work on your accounts.

Just above the keyboard is a row of shortcut buttons. These allow you to power down the display, start Windows Media Player, eject the DVD drive and change the power settings. You also have a user-defined shortcut key, for loading your favourite application.

MSI fx770

Although size might not matter, it’s hard to enjoy the latest blockbusters on a tiny laptop screen. Thankfully the MSI FX720 comes with a 17.3-inch widescreen display, so you won’t be squinting to make out the action.

Images are impressively sharp, whether you’re browsing your photos or watching a film. Although the 1600 x 900 resolution means you don’t get full 1080p visuals, we’d struggle to tell the difference when kicking back with an HD movie.

However, as with many recent media laptops, the base FX720 model doesn’t come fitted with a Blu-ray drive. You either have to make do with DVDs, or download your HD content from an online provider. Alternatively, you can stump up more cash for the Blu-ray option.

While the screen isn’t the brightest we’ve seen, it’s still vibrant enough to bring photos and films to life. Viewing angles are reasonable, but the glossy Super-TFT coating is highly reflective, so you should stay away from windows.

The in-built speakers are also surprisingly good, with enough volume to fill a small room. Whether we were watching a film or blasting out music, the sound quality was consistently strong, with no distortion. Of course, if you want to enjoy some serious bass, you should invest in an external pair of speakers.

While many multimedia laptops feature at least 620GB of storage, the FX720 settles for a 500GB hard drive. This fills up surprisingly quickly if you download a lot of HD movies and install loads of games, but external drives are cheap these days so it’s not a crucial factor.

Other features are rather slim. Four USB ports can be used to hook up peripherals, with two of them supporting USB 3.0 technology. VGA and HDMI connections allow you to attach monitors and televisions, if the screen isn’t satisfactory.

As expected, you have 802.11n Wi-Fi for connecting to wireless networks, and gigabit Ethernet if you need to hook up to a wired LAN.

MSI fx770

The MSI FX720 uses an Intel Core i5 2410M processor, which is one of the latest Sandy Bridge models. Backed up by 4GB of memory, you get strong mid-range performance. We ran a number of resource-sapping software suites and noticed little slowdown, even when we tried doing several things at once.

One of nVidia’s older GeForce GT 520M graphics cards still holds up well, with HD movies streaming perfectly. Media editing software also runs smoothly, so you can mess around with your home photos and video as much as you like.

When it comes to gaming, the FX720 isn’t quite as strong as we’d hoped. Older titles such as Half Life 2 run perfectly, but more recent, action-heavy games tend to stutter on the highest detail levels. If you want a gaming machine that’ll last you more than a few months, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

We were also a little disappointed by the overall performance compared to some other machines we’ve seen lately. While we weren’t expecting results comparable to the Dell XPS 15z or Acer Aspire Ethos laptops, which are twice the price of the FX720, there are better-value multimedia laptops available.

For instance, Dell’s Inspiron 15r has very similar specs for more than £100 less, while you can pick up the Lenovo IdeaPad Z570, which comes with a Blu-ray drive as standard, for just under £600. If you’re looking for a 17-inch multimedia laptop, we’d have to recommend HP’s Pavilion dv7 or the Samsung RF711 instead.

We also weren’t blown away by the FX720’s battery life. We know this laptop isn’t made for lugging around, but we barely made it through a two-hour film before the screen went black. Compare this to other multimedia laptops, which often last at least three hours, and it’s just another disappointment.

Benchmarks

CineBench 10: 9746
3D Mark 06: 6221
Battery Eater 05: 120 mins

MSI fx770

We’ve seen plenty of multimedia machines over the summer, and while some of them have been rather pricey, very few have disappointed. MSI’s FX720 has some tough competition but does it offer enough to warrant a purchase?

We liked

If you’re a cinebuff, or simply enjoy relaxing with the latest Michael Bay explode-a-thon, you’ll love the FX720’s excellent screen. It might not be the brightest panel, but it’s impressively sharp and brings images to life with its rich, deep colours.

Performance is strong enough for everyday use, with no irritating long load times or unexpected stuttering. The dedicated nVidia graphics card means you can get stuck into games, although you’ll need to turn down detail levels on more intensive titles.

If you’ve had enough of games and movies, you can stay productive with the firm isolation-style keyboard.

We disliked

Sadly, the FX720 is lacking that sleek, polished design that makes most multimedia laptops so desirable. We’ve seen laptops around this price point with solid, brushed metal bodies, so the lower cost is no real excuse.

Also, while performance is perfectly fine, there are better value laptops with similar specs out there. On the other hand, if you’re a gaming fan you should look to spend a little bit more on a laptop that will last you longer.

The 500GB hard drive is a little stingy, considering how many portables at this price point have 640GB or 750GB of storage. There’s also no Blu-ray drive, which quite a few media laptops have missed out recently.

Also, it might be an obvious point to make, but the FX720 is best left on a desk at home. The 3kg frame and two-hour battery life hamper portability, so look elsewhere if you need a machine for the daily commute.

With a sexy design and slightly better spec, the FX720 could have been a winner. The 17.3-inch screen is excellent, but there are better multimedia machines to be had for this price.

Related Links

  • TechRadar’s Reviews Guarantee
Share Button