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Samsung R720: Budget 17-inch Blu-ray laptop

An affordable entertainment laptop with decent graphics and a Blu-ray option, that won't break the bank, and isn't another crappy netbook? Get three of your finest cheers ready

In a pleasant break from the industrial pandemic of companies sneezing netbooks all over the place, Samsung has outed its latest entertainment laptop -- a 17.3-inch, Intel Centrino 2-powered effort with 1080p video supported natively and an optional Blu-ray disc drive.

Graphical horsepower is pitched as one of the mid-range machine's main selling points, and it's the work of ATI's Mobility Radeon HD4650 processor -- a slightly slower version of the same chip's desktop incarnation. It's a mid-range DirectX 10.1 model, paired with either 512MB or 1GB of speedy DDR3 RAM. This means games such as F.E.A.R should run with graphics set to a reasonably high level, and Blu-ray movies should play with no problems whatsoever.

And there's something else movie-related worth noting: the R720's display offers a true 16:9 aspect ratio, as opposed to the more common 16:10. This means for TV shows and films shot in 16:9 format, you won't suffer any black bars letterboxing your screen. It's no cure for anything shot in wider formats, such as many movies, which will still cause black bars a-plenty.

Other features include a little subwoofer for backing up traditionally weedy laptop speakers, a separate, full-size numeric keypad, four USB 2.0 ports and an integrated card reader. The entry-level configuration will start at £599 in July. Samsung laptops usually impress us, and offer a solid build with decent performance. Hopefully this will be not different.

One thing that we don't see anywhere is HDMI output, however, and for an entertainment laptop this could be the dead mouse in the maltloaf. We'll be able to confirm this later with more detailed specs when we hear back from Samsung.