Buying a laptop to watch your movies on often means spending a small fortune on a machine packed with high-performance components and a full HD screen.
If you want something more modest, the Samsung RV720 offers a 17.3-inch screen to help you enjoy movies and TV shows without having to cash in your pension fund. It also has enough power to handle most office tasks.
The RV720 is available now for around £470.
Design and build quality
If you're on the lookout for a tiny machine to slide out of your bag on the train or in a lecture, then the RV720 isn't going to be the best choice for you. At 417mm wide and 276mm deep, it's a pretty massive chap -- you'll need to find a capacious bag if you're planning to take it anywhere. That bulk gives it a weight of 2.5kg so you'd better make sure you hit the gym before picking it up. Some dead lifts and squat-thrusts should firm you up enough.
It's not wasted space though. That width is there to house a 17.3-inch screen, making the RV720 much better suited as a media machine anchored to your desk than a portable workhorse.
The screen has a 1,600x900-pixel resolution, which isn't quite pushing the boundaries of full high-definition, but it's pretty close. As there's no Blu-ray player included, you're less likely to be taking advantage of full HD movies anyway. High-quality streamed videos looked crisp, clear and bright, with very vivid colours. Whatever you watch should look great.
If you do decide to download high-definition content -- or if you connect an external Blu-ray drive -- then you can always hook up the laptop to an awesome TV like the LG LD490; that will handle your high-quality stuff and won't break the bank.
The large screen size will suit those of you wanting to catch up on your favourite shows on BBC iPlayer and kick back with a good movie on the weekend. It'll also sit well in an office environment as you'll be able to easily see more of the documents you're working on without a whole load of scrolling around.
The keyboard isn't the most wonderful of typing surfaces we've ever enjoyed. If you plan on doing a lot of work on this thing then you might want to give it your own hands-on in a shop. It uses rounded, isolated keys that are set quite high. This resulted in a few errors in our typing test. It's pretty easy to get used to though and you'll no doubt be up to speed once you've banged out the first few thousand words.
The trackpad is rather small, considering the amount of spare space around it. We'd really have appreciated an extra few millimetres to ease the vast amounts of swiping needed to traverse that massive screen. It's fairly responsive though -- if not the easiest thing to glide your finger across -- so you shouldn't struggle too much when browsing around the web.
The RV720's shell is made from plastic that -- while offering some flex -- felt sturdy enough to survive a small tumble to the floor. We prodded and poked all over and were generally satisfied with the build quality. It's all too common to find weak spots in the cheaper laptops -- and sadly, some of the more expensive ones too -- but the RV720 felt well put together.
The lid is mostly grey with a black stripe across the bottom, which just keeps this machine on the right side of mind-numbingly boring. It's been given a rough, lined texture that we couldn't decide if we liked or not. It's at least fun to scratch your fingernails across it and make a sound like a DJ scratching records, which is frankly one of our favourite features on any new piece of technology.
Around the sides you'll find three USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a VGA port, headphone-out/microphone-in jacks, an SD card reader and a DVD drive. It's not surprising there's no Blu-ray drive as they're only usually packed into more premium machines, but it would have been a welcome addition. There's also a 750GB hard disk drive, which is plenty of room for all your videos and photos.
Under the hood you'll find an Intel Core i3-2310M processor clocked at 2.10GHz, paired up with 4GB of RAM. Those are pretty low-end specs to match the low-end price. To see just what we could squeeze out of them, we unleashed our pack of wild, rabid benchmark tests.
In the PCMark05 test, which gauges the raw processing power of a machine, the RV720 pumped out a score of 6,049. That's not quite beating the Asus K53E, which achieved over 7,000 on the same test, but it's still an admirable performance for the price, especially when you take into account the considerably bigger screen.
It did, however, manage to edge out the score of the similarly priced 15-inch Lenovo Essential G570, which achieved a lesser 5,622. On test scores alone, the RV720 is well placed for the price.
Of course, these scores mean very little without grounding them in real life, so we went for some heavy multi-tasking fun involving numerous open browser tabs streaming high-definition video. Even with videos playing in both VLC Media Player and Windows Media Player too, we didn't find much by way of slowdown. For general computing use, the 4GB of RAM provides enough muscle to tackle most tasks, although you'll find the processor struggling with demanding tasks like high-definition video rendering.
With such a big screen to play, you'd be forgiven for wanting to fire up some glossy 3D games and take a car around a track or shoot some bad guys in the head, whichever takes your fancy. We ran the 3DMark06 test to see how it handles the polygons and were given the score of 3,246. That's pretty low -- certainly nowhere near the 13,997 given by the MSI GT680, but that is over a grand more expensive. It's about what we'd expect from a machine of this price.
To see how these numbers stack up, we took our car for a spin in Dirt 3. Running at full 1,600x900-pixel resolution, the game only managed to achieve a rate of around 10 frames per second, which was totally unplayable. There was also a considerable amount of lag in the time between pressing a key and an action taking place on screen.
When we reduced the resolution to 1,280x720 pixels, it was able to achieve around 15fps, which was an improvement, but didn't really make the game playable. If you've been given a free copy of the game then it'll give you a few minutes of enjoyment, but we don't advise you buy it at full price to play on this machine as you just won't have an enjoyable experience.
The RV720 doesn't hold up well as a gaming machine, but it's not designed to. Dedicated gaming laptops are extremely high-powered and therefore come with a much steeper price tag.
If you're after a desktop replacement laptop that will display your movies well, then the RV720 is a great choice. It may not be the most powerful thing on the market, but it has enough grunt to handle general office tasks and won't break the bank.