Samsung frequently impresses us with its high-performance consumer laptops, and the R710 is no exception. While its design lacks high-end style, its power, mobility and high-definition (HD) compatibility make it a great mobile entertainment centre.
The 3.1kg chassis is quite heavy, but its outstanding 277-minute battery life provides excellent mobility. The glossy plastic chassis and red highlights are intended to add style, but they fail to match the quality of the HP EliteBook 2730p and Sony VAIO VGN-FW31E.
Nevertheless, usability is top-notch. The wide keyboard and accompanying pad of numeric keys are great to use and among the best we've seen. The tiny touchpad and mouse buttons are less accessible and slightly awkward, however.
Although bettered by the Dell's processor, the dual-core Intel chip and 3072MB of memory provide among the best performance around. We had no trouble running several applications simultaneously, making this a great choice for the home or office.
Graphics power also impresses. The Nvidia graphics card is a mid-level chip, but manages to outperform all rivals in this group; even those with higher-powered GPUs. Videos and games are able to run smoothly, and you can edit multimedia files as easily as you can view them.
A key feature of the R710 is its Blu-ray drive. This is one of the most affordable laptops to feature an HD optical drive. You can watch the latest HD movie releases and access Blu-ray data discs, as well as standard CDs and DVDs.
The 17-inch screen isn't true widescreen, however, and doesn't carry a full HD resolution. So for best results you can connect to a full-sized HDTV, via the HDMI port. While the screen itself is sharp and vibrant, we unfortunately found it to be one of the dimmest panels.
The 250GB hard drive provides ample space for large collections of music, videos and photos. The 7-in-1 media card reader also makes it easy to share files with digital cameras and smartphones.
Connectivity boasts 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi which lets you connect to high-speed wireless networks, and Gigabit Ethernet provides the same fast access for fixed home and office networks. Bluetooth also lets you connect peripherals wirelessly.
Although the design and dull screen are low points, the power, usability and HD-compatibility of the R710 compensate. If you're looking for a high-powered, affordable HD media centre, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better laptop.