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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