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Opening the machine up also reveals similarities to the A300, though again it’s far more attractive and consistent. The screen and a narrow surround are glossy black with subtle gold flecks, an effect we’re seeing more frequently recently, including on the Acer Aspire One. At the screen’s top is a well-integrated 1.3 Megapixel webcam, while at the bottom is the Qosmio logo in a distinct silver.
Getting on to the main body of the notebook including the keyboard and its surround, the stripes run now vertically rather than horizontally as they did on the A300-177, and are far more muted - being dark grey against black. They also maintain the playful curve that made the lid so much more appealing than the Toshiba Satellite we looked at.
Harman/Kardon speakers make a welcome return, and despite having the same transparent covers as on the Satellite A300, here they’re nicely integrated into a curvaceous surround. This runs around the outer edge and transitions flawlessly from the transparent speaker covers to the chrome fingerprint scanner between the touchpad buttons. Though these are no longer as uncomfortably rounded as before and much easier to click, there’s a new problem: they are quite loose. This doesn’t inspire confidence in build quality, but even worse, if you’re the kind of user who likes to ‘tap’ the pad as a button press, they rattle distractingly and lack tangible feedback.
The touchpad itself is a bit on the small side, but perfectly usable partially thanks to its pleasant matte texture. Above it you’ll find Toshiba’s signature white LED bar, which makes it really easy to use in the dark. This is a great idea which I wish other notebook manufacturers would emulate.
To the left of the touchpad is a revised feature: the small volume wheel which comes along the notebook’s sides in the Satellite range has now become a full-fledged, chromed and indented wheel highlighted by its own blueish-white LED. Its action is assured and it has ‘clicking’ feedback to allow incremental adjustments.
Unfortunately the Toshiba logo is not backlit, but there are white LEDs hidden to the outside of the aforementioned speaker surround which creates a great effect. Of course the small power button and touch sensitive media buttons are also lit in white and the touch controls are very responsive. Button presses are confirmed by a small beep and the backlight turning off for a second (or on if you’ve set the backlighting to ‘off’ by default).
Moving on, the keyboard remains glossy black, rather than matte as with Toshiba’s smaller Portégé M800. While this does show fingerprints from certain angles and can make keys slightly slippery, it integrates well with the rest of the laptop’s look. Once you get used to the feel, the Qosmio’s keyboard becomes fairly pleasant to work with. Layout is good and it's full-sized, as you’d expect on a machine this big, with a complete number pad and large Enter key. Keys are well-separated, with no sign of flex. There is not quite the amount of travel I would have liked, but nevertheless feedback is positive overall and you’re never in doubt when you’ve hit a key.
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