Much admired for its innovative and experimental designs in everything from microwave ovens to mobile phones, Samsung has again thrown out the rulebook and tried something utterly different.
The M70, already noteworthy as one of the world's first 19in laptops, can operate as a PC with a more conventional desktop form factor or as a standalone monitor. This is all enabled by making the screen detachable from the rest of the chassis, with a stand provided so the screen can be set up to stand freely. It can then be attached to the rest of a chassis via a VGA cable or an entirely different PC.
Interestingly, although the monitor stand has both DVI and VGA inputs, the chassis of the laptop has only a VGA output. This means you can't reap the benefits of a digital connection if you decide to use it in its desktop configuration.
The M70 has solid specifications. There's a 2GHz Pentium M 760 processor backed up by 1GB of DDR RAM and in our WorldBench 5 tests the Samsung achieved a score of 87. Though this isn't stunning, it is perfectly respectable.
Graphics-wise, the 128MB GeForce Go 6600 card does a good job, offering playable frame rates in our Doom3 and Halo tests at resolutions of 1,024x768 and 1,280x1,024.
The whopping 100GB hard drive ought to be plenty for most users. Backup DVDs can be created using the Teac drive, which supports plus and minus dual formats and will write to both at reasonable speeds.
Serial and parallel ports are provided for anyone using legacy peripheral devices and there's a 56k modem onboard, not to mention a trio of USB 2.0 ports and a six-pin FireWire port. Several memory card formats are catered for, including Memory Stick. If you're looking to connect wirelessly, you'll find facilities to hook you up to 802.11b and 802.11g networks and Bluetooth functionality.
Detaching the screen and setting it up as a standalone monitor – the M70's party piece – didn't inspire confidence. The hinge at the bottom of the screen is so stiff you have to apply a nervewracking amount of force, and we had trouble with the catch mechanism that stops everything falling apart.
The size of the unit doesn't help – the whole procedure seems needlessly awkward. But the M70's greatest flaw is the screen itself. Besides being tricky to detach, it offers lower contrast than many of its rivals. The resolution of 1,680x1,050 is decent, but overall image quality isn't all it could be.
The unorthodox and large-screened Samsung isn't exactly petite – so how does it rate on the all-important portability factor? Well, carrying it around isn't as bad as you might think. Although it's more than 43cm wide, it turns the scales at a fairly manageable 4.4kg, and this weight is spread around nicely. Nonetheless, the sheer physical volume of the M70 can be somewhat inconvenient. Mobile workers will be pleased to hear that the battery life is astounding – 291 minutes of life is a great result if you plan on using the M70 on the road.