Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV600
At a Glance
As if the first Qosmio Windows Media Center Edition notebooks didn't kick enough multimedia booty with instant-on TV, a slot-fed DVD burner, awesome Harman/Kardon speakers and a cool volume dial, the latest Qosmio adds hi-fi sound.
According to Toshiba, the $2548 (as of March 27, 2006) Qosmio G35-AV600 is the first PC to carry a 1-bit digital amplifier--something found in many high-end home stereos. Uniting a bass-reflex speaker enclosure and subwoofer-emulating bottom air pockets, the notebook sounds fantastic--as thumpy and crystal clear as any external speakers that come bundled with a desktop PC. No other notebook's audio comes close.
Toshiba's top-of-the-line consumer notebook also boasts an Intel dual-core processor, a 17-inch WXGA+ wide-aspect screen, a full-size keyboard, and a pair of 80GB RAID-configurable hard drives.
Equipped with Intel's new 1.83-GHz Core Duo T2400 processor and 1GB of system RAM, the Qosmio earned a good WorldBench 5 score of 92. Dual processors speed up multitasking, which we saw in the Qosmio's performance results. The Qosmio's remarkable 3.8-hour battery life gives you the option of leaving the electrical outlet behind for a while.
An instant-on TV button above the keyboard continues to be one of the Qosmio's defining features. Another button lets you watch a movie or play a CD without booting Windows. You'll find the rest of the entertainment applications--including software for managing photo slide shows and videos, and the ability to pause and record live TV--inside Windows Media Center.
This notebook is decked out in nearly all respects. It lacks a DVI flat-panel monitor port, but you get an ExpressCard slot, a fingerprint reader, a three-in-one media card reader, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless readiness, and two headphone ports, including a shared S/PDIF minijack for connecting digital speakers or enhancing the headphone experience with Dolby virtual surround sound. Aside from the lack of DVI output, the Qosmio offers an exceptional array of video connections, including component-out, composite-in, and both S-Video-in and S-Video-out. The notebook has a minijack instead of a full coaxial cable connection, which means you have to keep track of a short adapter cable.
I thought the new dual-mode touchpad was useful. Tapping an on/off icon in the upper right corner fills the membrane with brightly backlit shortcut icons. After some practice, I could launch e-mail and my three favorite applications with the tap of a finger. My favorite shortcut consisted of controlling speaker volume by sliding a finger up or down the touchpad's scroll zone.
The Qosmio's only serious disappointment relates to gaming. In our tests, the G35-AV600 fell flat because of its low-powered nVidia Geforce Go 7300 graphics card. Far Cry looked pretty good and played at a smooth 44 frames per second, but in our other game tests the Qosmio could barely keep up with the action, at one point dropping to fewer than 9 fps.
By May, an updated model, the Qosmio G35-AV650, will be available with a high-definition optical drive for playing the handful of available HD DVD movies. The company couldn't say when the Qosmio would be available with a high-definition TV tuner for recording HDTV.
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