The Samsung RC710 is a large family laptop and an excellent option for staying connected online.

802.11n Wi-Fi is supported for connecting to wireless networks, which is currently the fastest wireless networking standard available. If you have Wi-Fi at home, you can enjoy superfast networking speeds on your favourite social networking sites. If you don't have Wi-Fi, you can use Gigabit Ethernet to connect to the internet via a cable instead.

Although this laptop opts for a previous generation Intel Core i5 480M processor instead of the latest Sandy Bridge technology, there's still enough power for all the family to run their applications. You can comfortably multi-task with creative applications, media players and other software, with no noticeable slowdown. The 6144MB of memory helps considerably.

Dedicated graphics

Multimedia performance is also good, thanks to the dedicated Nvidia GeForce 315M graphics card, which provides similar power to the Packard Bell EasyNote TS13-HR-035 and Sony VAIO VPC-CA1S1E/G. If you want to edit video or photos for posting online or sending to friends, the Samsung can manage it with gusto. However, if anyone in your family is a gamer, they'll be better served by the Dell Inspiron 15R.

The Nvidia GPU features Optimus technology, which automatically shuts the graphics card off when not in use. This conserves battery power, although you'll only get 237 minutes of life on the move, less than the Dell Inspiron 15R and Packard Bell.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 237 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 257
3DMark 2003: 10,228

It's also one of the heavier machines here, weighing in at 3.1kg, so is best suited to home use.

The integrated high-definition (HD) webcam is as sharp, and is great for chatting online or capturing any exciting monologues for uploading to YouTube. Be warned that there's a fair bit of motion blur, which restricts your movements while recording.

As well as shooting HD movies, you can also watch them using the built-in Blu-ray drive. The 17.3-inch display is a superb way of consuming your media, with a sharp 1600 X 900-pixel resolution and vibrant Super-TFT coating.

Whether you're instant messaging or bashing out a novel, frequent typists will like the full-sized isolation-style keyboard featuring a separate numeric keypad. It's comfortable to use over extended periods, while the sensitive touchpad is also good.

Samsung rc710

If you need a laptop for getting online, enjoying your media and staying in touch with friends and family, the RC710 is a great option, though best kept at home, thanks to the bulky build and limited battery life.

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