There are two extremes in the laptop world: the ultraportable systems that try to keep weight to a minimum and can offer incredible battery life, and the multimedia entertainment or games-focused beasts that act as desktop-replacements, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. A few days ago we took a look at one of Toshiba's more portable 13.3in notebooks, the Portégé M800. This time around we're bringing you its largest sibling in the form of the Qosmio G50, packing a whopping 18.4in display.
Toshiba has not been at its best recently, with the M800 only managing a mediocre score thanks to its poor battery life and the company's brand new high-end XD-E500 Upscaling DVD Player offering impressive image quality, but lacking too many features and pricing itself well out of the market. Will the Qosmio G50-115 Entertainment Notebook be the product to turn things around?
Well, it certainly has enough technology packed in to whet the appetite, but there’s one rather odd omission for such a high-end configuration: Blu-ray. Instead, the Qosmio features an onboard Toshiba Quad Core HD processor (originally called the Spurs Engine), which is essentially the same upscaling technology as used in the XD-E500. This apparently allows Toshiba to claim that the Qosmio G50 is "the first laptop to offer genuine real-time up-conversion to High Definition; insert any commercial movie DVD and watch the movie in stunning HD".
Now just to be clear on one point: upscaled or upconverted SD material is never going to look as good as native HD, since no technology can manufacture detail that isn't there. This isn't to say it isn't worthwhile, but there's a finite value attached to it. Fortunately - upscaling aside - the Quad Core HD chippery does have a few other surprises on hand - something we'll take a look at a little later.
Now, though, let's a take a closer look at what you get and being a massive machine, the Qosmio G50-115 arrives in a massive box, bundled with a TV aerial cable, aerial extender and mini antenna, an infrared receiver/extender and a full-size media remote. Coming from a manufacturer that has a long history of experience with remotes, this large model is solid but nothing out of the ordinary. It has a clear, logical layout, but if one were being picky the buttons are a bit stiff and as a whole it's quite bulky.
There's also a small cleaning cloth, to keep your notebook as shiny as the day you bought it - and you’ll need to use this a lot, since the only finish on this notebook is glossy plastic. Starting with the lid, it’s a combination of grey and silver lines very reminiscent of the Toshiba Satellite A300-177, but thankfully the new 'Vibe' design is far more attractive than the old 'Pinstripe' one, through the simple measure of adding a bit of curve to the line pattern. No longer straight and rigid, the stripes bend inward a little on the sides and are more subtle. The Toshiba logo also matches the whole much better now it has transitioned from off-white to silver. Suffice to say that, on the outside, it’s a major improvement.