Samsung describes the 15.6-inch RV510 as an affordable and powerful laptop. Priced at around £480, it's certainly affordable, but, as it uses a rather lowly dual-core Intel Pentium T4500 chip, can it really be described as powerful?
Samsung has a knack for designing good-looking laptops, and the RV510 continues the tradition. The glossy black lid, and silver and black colour scheme used on the keyboard and wrist rest, give it a more premium look than you'd perhaps expect at this price.
Like Samsung's business-focused P530, the RV510 uses a keyboard with a cross between an isolated and traditional design. It has the wide, flat keys of an isolated keyboard but they're more tightly grouped together, like on a traditional keyboard. The results are excellent. The keyboard has almost no flex in the middle and the keys have a fair amount of travel and so feel fast to type on.
The layout is good too. Pretty much all the keys are full-sized and Samsung has also found room to fit in dropped cursor keys and a full numerical keypad. The trackpad is small in comparison to that of some other 15-inch laptops, but the matte surface helps your finger glide easy across the surface and the two chrome-finished buttons are pleasingly responsive.
Samsung has gone with a screen that has a matte, rather than glossy, finish, but this is no bad thing, as the matte coating helps to cut down hugely on reflections, making it more comfortable to use for prolonged periods. Thanks to the LED backlight, the screen is very bright, which in turn helps colours to really make an impact. Viewing angles are good too by the standard of budget laptops. The resolution of 1,366x768 pixels isn't all that wonderful, although text, images and videos still look reasonably sharp.
Samsung hasn't been overly generous with the selection of ports on offer. For example, you have to make do with just a VGA socket, as there's a blanking plate where the HDMI socket should be. You also only get three USB ports, and the RV510 lacks an eSATA port or an ExpressCard slot. There's no Bluetooth but 802.11n Wi-Fi is included.
On the storage front, the RV510 is more impressive. It has a massive 640GB hard drive, which provides loads of room for storing media files like movies and photos. There's also an SD card slot on the front lip and a DVD writer tucked away on the right-hand side.
To keep the price of the laptop down, Samsung has used a dual-core Intel Pentium T4500 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, rather than one of Intel's higher-spec Core i3 chips. The processor is backed up by a healthy 4GB of RAM and, thanks to the fact that Samsung has gone with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, all of this memory is addressable by the OS.
Unfortunately, the laptop refused to complete our PCMark05 benchmark text. In use, it was pretty obvious that the machine lacked some oomph when faced with more demanding applications, although it was fine for day-to-day tasks like emailing, word processing, browsing the Web or watching programmes on BBC iPlayer.
Rather than opting for discreet graphics, Samsung has instead stuck with plain old integrated Intel GMA graphics. Integrated graphics never score well in the 3DMark06 benchmark test. The RV510 clocked up a meek score of just 904, which is worse than some netbooks.
That means you should throw any ideas you have of being able to play newer games out of the window, although you may be able to play much older 3D titles. The graphics processor works perfectly well, however, when it comes to more mundane tasks, like high-definition video decoding. We had no problems playing HD streams from BBC iPlayer, for example, or high-definition movies in the MKV format.
The less powerful processor and graphics also help the laptop put in a decent performance when it comes to battery life. In the most intensive Battery Eater test, it kept chugging away for 1 hour and 26 minutes, which isn't bad for a 15.6-inch machine. The Battery Eater test simulates the worst-case scenario for battery life, so, under real-world conditions, the laptop should last much longer away from the mains.
The Samsung RV510 is a good-looking machine, with an impressive screen and keyboard. Its processor lacks grunt, though, and its 3D performance is very poor. Its asking price initially makes it seem like a pretty good deal, but it starts to look less tempting next to the likes of the cheaper and faster Acer Aspire 5741.
Edited by Charles Kloet