15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.4kg, 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-2330M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
We've long praised Samsung for its stylish laptop designs, and the RV520 - the 15in cousin of the RV720 - is no exception. It has a smart matt silver case with a pinstripe texture on its two-tone lid and a glossy black keyboard panel. Most of its edges are tapered into smooth curves and, despite its plastic construction, it feels sturdy. Apart from the reduced screen size and resolution, there are very few differences between this and the Samsung RV720.
While none of its parts is particularly exciting, the RV520 is certainly more than the sum of them: the budget Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard disk and integrated graphics are what we'd expect at this price. There aren't any new technologies to surprise us here. Even its three USB ports conform to the older USB2 specification.
Even so, you're getting the same processor and hard disk that you'd find on other laptops here, but for about £80 less. However, it's not all smooth sailing. Firstly, its screen has a strong blue cast that dulls flesh tones and makes it more suited to working with documents than watching movies. It's bright and has decent contrast, although its backlight is a bit uneven, and the glossy finish can reflect overhead lights. Coupled with tight vertical viewing angles, this means that you'll have to adjust the screen's tilt carefully to get the best picture.
Second is the keyboard. Despite the inclusion of a numberpad to the right of the main keyboard, Samsung has left a centimetre on each side; we'd have preferred larger keys instead. They do have a light action, though, and despite a slight wobble they provided adequate feedback. The layout is standard too, with the Control key having been placed in the bottom left corner and the Function key modifying the F1-F12 keys to activate shortcuts.
The RV520 has a large touchpad, which we found to be responsive and smooth. It supports scrolling areas and multi-touch gestures, and has two separate buttons set close to the edge of the case.
Sadly, there's little left to talk about. There are only three USB2 ports, and the memory card slot only supports SD cards (although these are the most popular kind, admittedly) rather than Sony's Memory Stick or older MMC or xD cards. Battery life, at five hours and 45 minutes, is average for this price, but you're unlikely to carry the RV520's 2.4kg very far from a power socket anyway.
The RV520 is becoming rarer by the day, so if you fancy one then don't delay. It's fantastic value, especially at its current low price, and so wins our Budget Buy award.