This is a 17″ mid-range multimedia laptop featuring a quadcore processor with impressive battery life. The Samsung RC730 currently costs 650 euros. Its 2.0GHz i7-2630M CPU is supported pixelwise by a standard mid-range Nvidia GT540M, and there’s 4GB RAM and a 500GB Samsung HDD completing the line-up.
We are pleased to announce that Intel’s Optimus graphical switching is present, prolonging battery life by shutting down the dedicated graphics card when it isn’t needed. The Samsung RC730 weighs 3kg, right at the limit of portability. Other options include a core-i5 processor, for anyone who doesn’t need fearsome processing power, as well as larger hard drives or SSD, and a Blue-Ray writer. Together they can take the price to just under 1000 euros.
The RC730 sports matte black surfaces with rounded corners and a glossy lid. Everything is well-constructed and solid, with very little flex. The hinges are reassuringly stiff, with no sign of teeter in the glossy lid.
Connectivity interfaces are only average. No FireWire is acceptable, but to lack eSATA and ExpressCard ports on a machine without USB-3 connectivity is almost negligent. It means fast external drives cannot be connected up efficiently.
Click on these pictures to see ports in detail.
So we’d advise upgrading to a 7200rpm drive or SSD from the start. We have to make do with four USB-2 ports, trusty VGA and HDMI ports, an SD card reader, a Kensington lock and audio jacks. WiFi-n is supplied, but Bluetooth is missing, so a dongle is necessary for connecting with Bluetooth peripherals. There’s a 1.3mp webcam above the screen. The restore DVD is welcome.
The glossy 17.3 1600 x 900 pixel display delivers poor contrast and blacks are not particularly deep, and together with average brightness, the Samsung RC730′s display is sub-par for a business notebook. The glossy surface makes outdoor use more problematical. Viewing angles are poor too.
The keyboard is big and gives an agreeable typing experience, and the numberpad means the RC730 is equipped for office use. The chiclet keyboard isn’t backlit – the whole machine is a bit too solemn for that sort of eye-candy. The mousepad is pleasantly large but was slightly imprecise. The claimed multitouch functionality also proved hit-and-miss.
On a more positive note, the CPU handles even heavy tasks with ease, and the HD3000 integrated graphics help everything run smoothly, while adding to battery life. When called for, the 1GB Nvidia Geforce 540M graphics card helps the Samsung RC730 notebook achieve good scores in gaming benchmark tests, at least at medium settings, matching the performance of other notebooks running on this processor. File transfer of almost 100MB/s helps prevent long delays in moving files, and the empty RAM channel can be filled with another 4GB module for better performance right across the board. Games often need to be played at 1366 x 768 resolution, or with lowered detail settings at native resolution. But we shouldn’t forget that gaming notebooks, not business machines, are necessary for playing current games at high resolutions, and those start at around 1500 euros.
Speaker performance is typically metallic and hollow compared with full stereo systems; external speakers or headphones are needed for anything other than casual listening.
With display brightness reduced and careful use users can eke out more than 7 hours of battery use, but with WiFi browsing and a few YouTube videos battery life falls to 4 hours 18 minutes. Not bad at all.
The Samsung RC730 is certainly not a notebook for graphics editing suites, but users won’t find the display as bad as the review might suggest – for less than 1000 euros a laptop capable of playing last year’s games smoothly is still a good deal.
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