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Review Samsung R730-JT06 Notebook

Simon Kohlstock (translated by Sara Kate Jaceniuk), 04/07/2011

17" newcomer. The R730-JT06 offers a large display diagonal, a chic design and a good keyboard. Are the Intel Core i3 and the GeForce G 310M enough for a notebook of this size? Or should it have come with a bit more?

Samsung presents an updated model of the R730 series with the new R730-JT06.  With its 17.3" display dimensions, the notebook is aimed at the multimedia - and desktop-replacement (DTR) segment of the notebook market. The current version of the notebook is equipped with an Intel Core i3 processor and a Nvidia GeForce G 310M.  It is yet to be seen whether or not the choice of processor and graphics really fulfills these demands.  Samsung praises the good cost effectiveness of the series, and we'll find out in this review if that is really the case.  After all, the suggested retail price from Samsung is still 749 euros.

Case

Purely in terms of its exterior, the Samsung R730 cuts a nice figure. The display lid's color gradient of black-red-black pleased us straightaway, and puts it well above the monotone-colored display lids  usually found on other notebooks.  There is also a pattern under the paint which gives it more depth.  According to Samsung, although the surfaces have a high gloss finish, they should be much more resistant to fingerprints than is otherwise common on such glossy surfaces.  We were able to confirm Samsung's claim here.  Fingerprints are only allusively recognizable.

Yet as is the case for most other notebooks of this size, the R730 struggles in terms of the display's stability.  Despite the Duracase housing, it can still be twisted somewhat.  It also gives under pressure when closed.

On the other hand, the insides of the Samsung notebook prove to be very stable.  The palm rest and the edging around the keyboard only give a tiny bit when pressure is applied to specific points, and the keyboard also stays put under selective pressure.  One must again praise Samsung in this respect.

All in all, the case of the Samsung R730 is impressive.  The design was met with approval, and we also found the construction to be commendable.  While it can't match the qualities of a HP Envy 17, which thanks to its materials alone has a nose out front, there is still no reason for the R730 to shy from the competition.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, 17" notebooks benefit from their greater space offering. Thanks to this, they usually have a greater range of connections than smaller notebooks.  That is so long as the manufacturer hasn't tried to cut the price of the notebook too much.  In terms of USB connections, the Samsung R730 has a total of three connections available, all of which are the 2.0 version.  Three USB connections is pretty much the minimum number for a 17" notebook.  It should really have four connections considering that larger notebooks are  after all often used as stationary devices. HDMI and VGA connections represent the standard and are available on most current notebooks.  There are no real exotics on the R730.

On the left side, the notebook has a Kensington lock, the connection for the power pack, a VGA port, a RJ45 (LAN) connection, a HDMI connection, a USB 2.0 connection and two audio connections.  These audio connections are the usual ones for headset - and microphone connectors. 

Two additional USB 2.0 connections and the optical driver are found on the right side.  But the two USB connections were placed on top of each other which means that in most cases there is only room for one stick since the second space is covered.

Out front is the 3-in-1 card reader, while no connections are found out back.  The card reader works with SD Card, MMC and SDHC formats.

Thankfully, Samsung placed the connections as far back as possible.  The connections needed for stationary use are mainly found on the left side which means they are much less in the way.

Left
Left: Kensington Lock, connection for the power pack, VGA, LAN, HDMI, USB 2.0, 2x audio
Right
Right: Optical driver, 2x USB 2.0
Front
Front: 3-in-1 card reader
Rear
Rear

Communication

The Samsung R730 is equipped with LAN and WLAN. But Samsung did forgo the use of Bluetooth.  An Atheros AR9285 WLAN card handles wireless connections. This works with the 802.11 b/g/n standards.  A Marvell Yukon 88E8059 card takes care of wired connections.  The possible speeds are 10/100/1000Mbit.

Delivery Contents

The delivery contents are quite spartan. In addition to the notebook, power pack and battery, the carton only contains the usual printed guide material. The recovery DVDs were also left out of the delivery contents. The system can be reverted to its original setting with a recovery partition when booting.

Guarantee

Samsung offers of 24 month guarantee for the R730.  Those looking for more can extend this to 36 or 48 months within 90 days of purchase. 

Input Devices

Keyboard              

Contrary to the trend, Samsung didn't go with individual, free-standing keys. Yet the individual keys are still pleasantly large with an overall size of 18 x 18 millimeters. But the effective surface is somewhat smaller at 15 x 15 millimeters. This is due to the design of the keys.  However, the smaller surfaces benefit the space between the keys, which is rather generous at 4 millimeters. 

We also liked the very large and clear inscription of the keyboard. The writing is larger than on other models and is therefore much easier to read.  Unfortunately, there is no backlighting which would have allowed the keys to be visible even in the dark.  The keyboard is nonetheless impressive and shows its true strengths when writing.  The large keys allow one to find the keys accurently and reduce the number of typing mistakes.  The pressure point and feedback of the keys are also impressive and should please writing enthusiasts.  But touch typists will miss the markings for the "F" and "J" keys.  Oddly enough, the marking is found on the numeric keypad.

Samsung went without extra, special keys altogether.  The only additional key is the power key.  All other functions are carried out with the "Fn" keys.

Touchpad

The touchpad is adequately dimensioned with a diagonal of 98 millimeters.  This allows for comfortable and precise navigation on the display.  There is a subtle framework around the touchpad which separates it from the palm rest by sight and feel.  The frame also illuminates in blue when the touchpad is in use.  A matching illuminated keyboard would have been a real highlight had it been employed in conjunction with the touchpad.  Under the touchpad are the two mouse keys.  The hub of the keys is quite short, and the pressure point is rather hard.  This gives the keys a direct feel when actuating them.  The touchpad also has mutlitouch which means that zooming, scrolling or rotating content is not a problem.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

For the display screen Samsung went with a 17.3" display with LED backlighting.  With an aspect ration of 16:9 and a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels, the display can't show full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) content, but the resolution is enough for HD (1280 x 720 pixels).  Like most displays which are currently built in, the Samsung R730 also employs a reflective display, which greatly hinders using the notebook outdoors.  The low contrast of 152:1 also isn't conducive for this purpose.

191
cd/m²
190
cd/m²
197
cd/m²
202
cd/m²
204
cd/m²
211
cd/m²
212
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
224
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 224 cd/m²
Average: 205.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Center on Battery: 204 cd/m²
Black: 1.34 cd/m²
Contrast: 152:1

The display is competent in terms of its brightness.  The values range from 191 – 224 cd/m², giving it an average of 205.9 cd/m².  According to our measurements, the brightness fades a bit toward the top, but this drop-off isn't noticeable to the naked eye.  While the resulting illumination of 85 percent isn't outstanding, it's still a solid value.  The  high level of black at 1.34 cd/m² and the correspondingly low contrast are the only things which cloud the picture somewhat. Contrast values less than 1 are desirable.

The display of the Samsung R730 is far less convincing in terms of its color portrayal.  Only a very small portion of the color spectrum is covered when compared to Adobe RGB.  The Samsung R730 also can't quite keep up when compared with its high-priced competition, the HP Envy 17. Users who place a high priority on color rendering (photographers, designers) should really have a look around at other notebooks with corresponding displays.  But this won't bother hobby photographers and the average Joe.

As a rule, high brightness levels are always an advantage when it comes to taking the notebook outdoors.  However, the contrast and the reflective display screen work against that.  Under direct sunlight it is difficult to reasonably discern anything on the display of the Samsung R730.  A spot in the shade is a must. The two images taken from testing during outdoor use show very clearly that the Samsung notebook does quite well in the shade, but that it's still very difficult to recognize anything under direct sunlight.

Outdoor use
Outdoor use

The user generally has to be mindful how they view the display of the Samsung R730. On the vertical axis there is only a very narrow space in which the content is shown without distortion.  There is a bit more leeway on the horizontal axis which makes it possible for multiple people to sit in front of the notebook, for instance in order to watch a film.

Viewing angles Samsung R730-JT06
Viewing angles Samsung R730-JT06

Performance

The built-in Intel Core i3 370M processor is a dual-core processor with a clock speed of 2.4 GHz.  The two cores of the processor are based on the Nehalem (Westmere) architecture, and thanks to Hyperthreading, they can run 4 threads simultaneously.  In contrast to its larger i7 siblings, the i3 processor is missing several enhancements.  Intel's TurboBoost technology for instance didn't make it into this processor.  This means that the 370M can't be automatically overclocked in specific load situations.  With a TDP of 35 watts, the 370M is average for an Intel processor; it is neither especially frugal nor particularly energy hungry.  But one should keep in mind that an Intel GMA HD graphics card is also integrated in the processor.  Old Core 2 Duo models with the same TDP values situated these two components externally, meaning that comparable equipment features used significantly more energy.

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM SPD
Systeminfo GPUZ
Systeminfo DPC
Systeminformationen Samsung R730-JT06

A Nvidia GeForce G 310M is employed as the graphics card.  One actually finds this graphics card more in small and light notebooks.  Rarely does one come across it in a 17" notebook.  The graphics card is capable of DirectX 10.1 and can play back many DirectX 10 titles on minimal to middle details fluidly. Examples of such include Half Life 2, Far Cry or Fear.  The graphics card fulfills the demands of occasional gamers more than it does real enthusiasts, and for that reason, the emphasis of the Samsung R730 lies more in multimedia than it does in gaming.

But thanks to CUDA, DirectX Compute and OpenCL support, the 16 stream processors are also geared for tasks other than merely graphics rendering.  The stream processors can for instance be used for video encoding, and they work much faster than typical main processors when used for such special applications.

A large notebook doesn't always translate into a lot of performance.  That should be clear already from the hardware, though if not, then a look at the benchmarks will reveal the reality of things.  The Samsung R730 fell into the lower third in our CineBench R10 scoring list. While the notebook could edge out the competition with Intel GMA graphics, things got tougher when it was put up against systems with the same equipment.  The Lenovo IdeaPad V560 with the same equipment (370M, G 310M) was far ahead of the Samsung.  Things look a bit better in the overall rating of the PCMark Vantage benchmark.  Here the Samsung notebook comes out ahead of just over half of the competition.  Yet there are still several notebooks with Nvidia GeForce G 310M which perform better here. Yet these do have the advantage of a stronger processor.  An example would be the Samsung QX310-S02DE (460M, G 310M).

4.9
Windows 7 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.6
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
4.9
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
2658
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
6107
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
3266
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
3274 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
7386 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
3288 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
8.48 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.98 Points
Help
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage5328 points
Help

Benchmarks which put high demands on graphics, such as the 3D Mark 06, also highlight the shortcomings of the weak Nvidia GeForce G 310M.  In our ratings list, the multimedia notebook fell into the lower third of the table.  But it should be noted  that the Samsung R730 is one of the highest-placing notebooks  with G 310M graphics in our table.

3D Mark
3DMark 0310628 points
3DMark 057207 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
3274 points
3DMark Vantage1146 points
Help
Samsung SpinPoint M7 HM641JI
Transfer Rate Minimum: 41.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 98.3 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 77.7 MB/s
Access Time: 19.3 ms
Burst Rate: 88.4 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1 %

The built-in Samsung HM641JI harddrive is a 2.5" model with a gross capacity of 640 GB and a speed of 5,400 rpm.  In terms of its performance specifications, the harddrive represents the standard harddrive equipment currently employed in notebooks.  Although its average transfer rate of 77.7 MB per second isn't record breaking and the access time isn't particularly fast at 19.3 milliseconds, the Samsung notebook can still hold its own with much of the competition.  But those looking for more performance should either go for a harddrive with 7,200 rpm or switch to SSD.

Gaming Verdict

Since the Samsung R730 isn't a gaming notebook, we decided to forgo a comprehensive review of its gaming capabilities.  More detailed information about which games work best with the Nvidia GeForce G 10 can be found in our Gaming performance of current notebook graphics cards. We only tested StarCraft 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Samsung R730.

StarCraft 2 ran with 109.7 fps on the lowest settings.  StarCraft 2 isn't a problem when played with a limited resolution and low details, though it doesn't look so great.  However, just a switch over to medium details causes the refresh rate to drop to 18 pictures per second. This means that fluid gaming is no longer possible.

The whole procedure repeats itself with Call of Duty: Black Ops.  With a limited resolution and low details, the game runs fluidly with 31.6 fps.  But as soon as the settings are ramped up a bit, the refresh rate drops considerably and the game becomes almost unplayable. While one can in fact still play with 22 fps, it doesn't deliver real gaming enjoyment.

As expected, the combination of a Core-i3 and GeForce G 310M is only marginally suited for gaming.  Occasional gamers who don't place a high priority of computer games can be pleased enough with this, but all others should look around for a different processor/graphics combination.

low med.high ultra
StarCraft 2 (2010) 109.71812.1fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) 31.622.120fps

Emissions

System Noise

If the Samsung R730 notebook is at idle or is being used to surf the Net, then the noise level remains pleasantly low at 31.1 dB(A).  The only audible noise is the soft rustle of the harddrive.  Of course the notebook gets louder under load, but it still remains in a very acceptable range with a maximum of 36.7 dB(A).  The notebook never really becomes intrusive.  We also couldn't detect any annoying noises from the transistors or other components.

Noise Level

Idle 31.1 / 32.0 / 32.0 dB(A)
HDD 31.3 dB(A)
DVD 35.4 / dB(A)
Load 32.6 / 36.7 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The Core i3 in this large notebook profits from its excellent cooling.  If the notebook is for instance burdened by a game, then only one spot on the underside heats up to 34.6 degree Celsius.  None of the other areas on the underside reach even the 25 degree Celsius mark.  The upper side also stays well below critical levels with a maximum of 28.7 degrees Celsius.  The palm rest warms up to only 24.5 degrees Celsius.  This means that the Samsung R730 can always be used on one's lap, even in summer for those wearing shorts.

Idle operation isn't so different than operation under load.  While the maximum temperatures sink slightly, the average values remain pretty much the same, or even sink a bit under load. That's because the fan of the Samsung switches off at idle while the notebook is only passively cooled.  This results in the relatively high average values when compared to load operation.  But of course these are also well below the dangerous limit for the hardware.

The processor temperature climbed to 74 degrees Celsius in our stresstest (Prime 95 + FurMark).  This still isn't cause for concern.  This value is also within the safe zone.  No losses in performance could be detected during the subsequent benchmark test.  Thus the Samsung R730  performs well in this respect as well.

Max. Load
 28.7 °C23.5 °C19.5 °C 
 25.8 °C25.3 °C20.4 °C 
 22.9 °C24.5 °C20.7 °C 
Maximum: 28.7 °C
Average: 23.5 °C
19.0 °C22.0 °C34.6 °C
18.4 °C23.1 °C23.0 °C
21.1 °C20.7 °C21.1 °C
Maximum: 34.6 °C
Average: 22.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  54.7 °C | Room Temperature 16.4 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The sound quality delivered by the notebook was unconvincing in testing. Overall, the tone of the small speakers sounds very flat. Few notebooks can  properly project low frequencies (basses) as they lack an appropriate subwoofer.  But on the Samsung notebook, the tinny sound of these frequencies is even more extreme and further detract from its sound impression. Those wanting to watch a film on the notebook should look for external speakers.  But the maximum volume is quite good and would even be enough to fill a small room.

Battery Life

Readers Test
Maximale Akkulaufzeit (Readers Test)
Classic Test
Minimale Laufzeit  (Classic Test)
DVD
DVD
Surfen
Surfen
Laden
Akku laden
 

Just because the diagonal of the notebook's display is large doesn't mean that the battery grew to corresponding dimensions.  As it is, the Samsung comes with a 6-cell battery with 44 Wh.  Batteries of this size and capacity are also found in 15" notebooks.  We tested the maximum runtime with the Battery Eater Readers Test.  The Samsung R730 notebook put up a runtime of 3 hours and 28 minutes.  In the Classic Test, which simulates use under load, there is only 1 hour of battery life.  Those who frequently surf the net with the notebook while underway will get a bit more than 2 hours of battery life.  Because we watched a few YouTube videos during this test, one could certainly get longer runtimes than this.  Those looking to watch a film while underway will have no problem with the Samsung R730, that is assuming it isn't an excessively long film.  The battery also holds out for 2 hours here.  Fully charging the battery takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
3h 28min
WiFi Surfing
2h 01min
DVD
2h 03min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 02min

The Samsung R730 proved itself to be quite sedate when it came to current consumption.  That's also no wonder considering the hardware it has built-in.  With 12 - 17.8 watts at idle, the notebook finds itself on par with 15-inchers.  The 54 - 69 watts used under load also fall more within the 15" category.  Many 17" notebooks use much more energy here, although they do have more potent hardware.  The HP Envy 17 for instance uses 30 - 50 watts at idle and up to 120 watts under load.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.4 / 0.7 Watt
Idle 12.0 / 17.5 / 17.8 Watt
Load 54.2 / 69.0 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Verdict

Samsung has introduced a capable entry-level DTR (desktop replacement) notebook with the R730-JT06. We were impressed by its chic design, the solid quality of its construction and its good keyboard.  However, one should be clear about the fact that despite its size, the notebook doesn't deliver outstanding performance.  Current games are only playable with minimal details.  The Samsung R730 is more suited as a multimedia notebook.  Full-HD videos aren't a problem, but then one should really hook up external speakers as the built-in units leave a lot to be desired.  On the other hand, the notebook is inconspicuous in terms of its system noise, and the temperatures also remain within bounds.  Still, the notebook isn't a distance runner, not by a long shot.

But its cost effectiveness is pretty good.  Although Samsung publishes a SRP of 749 Euros, out price comparison listed the notebook already as low as 599 Euros.  Those hoping to replace their old computer with a chic notebook and do mainly simple tasks like surfing the Net, writing mails/Word documents or watch videos on YouTube will certainly be satisfied with the Samsung R730.

» Das Samsung R730 ist derzeit ab 645,- bei Amazon.de erhältlich.

Samsung R730-JT06
By courtesy of ...
In Review: Samsung R730-JT06, by courtesy of:
In Review:  Samsung R730-JT06

Specifications

Samsung R730-JT06

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM55
:: Memory
4096 MB, DDR3-8500, 533 MHz, max. 4096 GByte, 2 banks
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 310M - 512 MB, Core: 625 MHz, DDR3, 8.16.11.8911
:: Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Samsung SpinPoint M7 HM641JI, 640 GB 5400 rpm
:: Soundcard
HD Audio
:: Connections
3 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Mikrofoneingang, Kopfhörerausgang, Card Reader: 3-in-1 Kartenleser (SD Card, MMC, SDHC),
:: Networking
Marvell Yukon 88E8059 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR9285 802.11 b/g/n (b g n )
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633J
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 32.6 – 39.6 x 411.4 x 272.8
:: Weight
2.84 kg Power Supply: 0.234 kg
:: Battery
44 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6-cell battery, 11.1 volts
:: Price
749 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: Webcam: 0.3 MegaPixel, Documantation, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Easy Battery Manager, Easy Display Manger, Easy Network Manager, Easy SpeedUp Manager, Microsoft Office Professional 2007 Testversion, SAMSUNG Support Center, SAMSUNG Update Plus, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The 17" Samsung R730
The 17" Samsung R730
The Samsung R730 is carried by a max. 2 ram bar.
The Samsung R730 is carried by a max. 2 ram bar.
...which allow access to the hardware.
...which allow access to the hardware.
There are two flaps out back...
There are two flaps out back...
The touchpad's edging lights up.
The touchpad's edging lights up.
The small speakers weren't impressive.
The small speakers weren't impressive.
Good keyboard with large inscriptions
Good keyboard with large inscriptions
The separate numeric keypad.
The separate numeric keypad.
The maximum opening angle isn't particularly large.
The maximum opening angle isn't particularly large.
View from the side.
View from the side.
Chic design in black-red-black.
Chic design in black-red-black.
The power pack.
The power pack.

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Links

Compare Prices

Pro

+Chic design
+Good construction
+Good keyboard
+Numeric keypad
+Volume
+Temperatures
 

Cons

-Limited viewing angle
-No matte TFT
-Relatively limited performance
-Range of connections is rather mediocre

Shortcut

What we like

We found the design of the lid to be very attractive, as well as the well executed keyboard with its large writing.

What we'd like to see

Backlighting compatible with the touchpad should have been offered.  We also missed Bluetooh on the Samsung R730.

What surprises us

That some of the markings for typist using the 10-finger system were missing from the keyboard.

The competition

There aren't a lot of 17" devices in this price range.  One competitor from Toshiba is the Satellite Pro L670.  But this only offers an Intel Core i3-350M and Intel GMA graphics. But it is equipped with a matte display and Bluetooth.  Another candidate comes from Medion, the P7615.  This also has employs a weaker CPU, the Intel Core i3-330M.  On the other hand, it has a better graphics card with the GeForce GT 300M, which is suited much better for gaming.

Rating

Samsung R730-JT06
03/22/2011 v2
Simon Kohlstock

Chassis
85%
Keyboard
83%
Pointing Device
80%
Connectivity
65%
Weight
76%
Battery
70%
Display
66%
Games Performance
64%
Application Performance
88%
Temperature
95%
Noise
91%
Add Points
80%
Average
79%
78%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Samsung R730-JT06 Notebook
Author: Simon Kohlstock, 2011-04- 7 (Update: 2013-06- 6)