One thing we’re glad about, however, is the continuing excellence of Toshiba’s Harman/Dardon speakers. In fact, on the G50 they’re better than ever, and that’s saying something. Combined with Dolby Soundroom, you really do get a soundstage with depth and body. Films are enthralling in their aural realism, while music is handled with clarity and definition. If I felt bass to be a tad lacking, it’s only because the high quality of these notebook speakers had me mentally comparing them to my 5.1 system at home.
So far we've dealt with the exterior, but what's driving this behemoth? Well, the Centrino 2 based G50-115 certainly has enough power to tackle anything but graphically intensive games. An Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 purrs along at 2.26GHz on a speedy 1066MHz front side bus, while consuming only 25W maximum and staying nicely cool. It's backed up by a generous 4GB of DDR2 RAM, which is more than the included Vista Premium 32-bit OS knows what to do with.
You're also unlikely to run out of storage space anytime soon with twin 250GB hard drives providing around 464GB of formatted capacity. In addition to the aforementioned Wireless-N we have Bluetooth 2.0 EDR completing wireless connectivity, while for light gaming and most multimedia functions, there is an nVidia GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB of dedicated memory. If you mess about with the settings, it can even handle some modern games; I played COD4 at the screen's native 1,680 x 945 resolution with some of the detail settings on low at a 25FPS average.
From the graphics card, let's move on to the Toshiba-exclusive Quad HD Processor, the chip that - among other things - handles upconversion of DVD media to 1080i. As expected of the cell technology powering the XD-E500 Upscaling DVD Player, upconversion does have an appreciable impact on DVD video. Even on the notebook's own non-Full HD screen, images look far sharper and slightly more vibrant, and while it does emphasise noise, the benefits are more than worth it.
That's not all the Quad Core chip can achieve though. Its most original application is probably Toshiba's 'gesture control'. Ideally, this would be the equivalent of using a Wii-mote - without the Wii! Utilising the 1.3MP camera above the screen, the system tracks your hand and certain finger movements.
In theory, a fist allows you to move the pointer, a 'thumbs up' left-clicks while an open hand pauses or right-clicks. In practice, there are several considerations: you have to be in a well-lit room and your background must be a different colour to your hand. I found moving the cursor about with your hand works well, as long as you keep your knuckles facing forward and don't move your fist too fast. Popping your thumb up to click also worked quite well, and holding your hand open in front of the screen to pause and play media is incredibly handy (pun intended). It's annoying that activating upscaling disables gesture control and vice versa, but then I suppose you can't have everything.