Five hundred and fifty quid. What does that buy you? Fifty-five thousand penny sweets, or maybe an affordable desktop replacement laptop. Samsung hopes you'll plump for the latter, and drain your wallet for the RV511-S01 -- a Core i3 laptop with 6GB of RAM.
Grabbing hold of the RV511, we can tell it's not built to travel. It weighs 2.4kg, which isn't very heavy compared to some other larger laptops, but it's quite bulky in terms of its dimensions -- measuring 382 by 256 by 35mm, it's not particularly thin, and if you have a backpack you can squeeze it into, it'll likely preclude you from lugging anything else around too.
Still, there's a place for laptops that aren't especially portable -- you won't have any trouble lugging this monster around your house from room to room, so you could use this as your single home computer and plug it into your telly for watching video, or plonk it down on your desk when it's time to get your nose to the grindstone.
The design leaves something to be desired, though kudos to Samsung for trying something a little quirkier than usual. The interior is plain silver, with a black gloss surrounding the keyboard.
The lid, meanwhile, has a big black strip along the bottom, while the rest is a shinier silver hue. It has an interesting texture, which we can only liken to those lenticular 3D-effect pictures -- dozens of tiny raised horizontal lines. It makes a great vwoop noise when you drag your hands up and down along it, but if you're the kind of person who can't stand nails on a chalkboard, this texture may well set your teeth on edge.
In terms of usability, this is impressive stuff from Samsung. The keyboard has a number pad along the right-hand side, and the whole keypad seems intelligently laid-out. Although each key is quite small, there's a wide space between them so you probably won't find yourself making too many mistakes.
Each key is pleasantly springy and responsive, which will make typing at lightning speed easy enough. We did notice a little flex in the keyboard, but nothing catastrophic.
The display is good -- this is a 15.6-inch panel with a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. It's impressively vivid, with colours looking really vibrant, but even with the brightness cranked up to max, this isn't a particularly bright screen. The viewing angle also isn't up to much, and you might be driven crazy by screen reflections if you're using the RV511 in a brightly lit environment.
All in all, this is an average display. We've seen some Samsung laptops with really ace panels recently, so we're a little disappointed this one isn't similarly spellbinding.
Connect the dots
Around the edges you'll find an Ethernet port, three USB ports, a multi-format card reader, VGA and HDMI outputs, a DVD rewritable drive, 3.5mm sockets for headphones and a mic, and a little webcam sitting above the display.
That's pretty bog-standard connectivity, but bog-standard is fine in this case -- this range of ports will most likely cater to all your everyday needs. The HDMI port is appreciated, as this lets you hook your laptop's video and sound up to an HD telly.
There's a 640GB hard drive inside, and this PC rumbles along on Windows 7 Home Premium.
There's some pretty delicious hardware floating about inside this RV511 -- specifically an Intel Core i3-380M CPU clocked at 2.53GHz, plus 6GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 315M graphics card. This lethal triumvirate delivers impressive performance for the price. When we ran our PCMark05 benchmark test, the RV511-S01 achieved a score of 6,387, which is terrific. Anecdotally, we found this PC kept up with all our multi-tasking and ordinary cruising very well, with very little lag.
Graphical performance is decent too -- that Nvidia graphics card helped this laptop score 3,845 when we ran our 3DMark06 benchmark test, which means it'll handle HD video without so much as a whimper. It'll manage a healthy dollop of gaming too, so long as you don't push it too far with cutting-edge titles and graphics ramped up to their maximum settings.
That graphics card features Nvidia's Optimus tech, which is supposedly able to dial the laptop's graphical grunt down, or crank it up depending on what you're doing. The idea is to preserve battery life, and when we gunned the RV511's CPU at a constant 100 per cent using our Battery Eater Classic test, the laptop held out for exactly two hours. That's quite good for a desktop-replacement machine, and you can expect to get at least that much and more if you're using the RV511 more responsibly.
All things considered, this is a decent laptop. It doesn't blow our socks off in terms of design or portability, but it's affordable and offers really spiffy graphics performance for the price. If you want something more portable and don't mind sacrificing graphical prowess, check out the Samsung Q330.
Edited by Nick Hide