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Toshiba Qosmio G50-115 18.4in Entertainment Notebook - Toshiba Qosmio G50-115
Toshiba have provided a custom software interface for the gesture control, and have done a really good job. When you turn it on each corner of the screen becomes an interactive button that pops up a range of options in huge icons separated by a large amount of space. It's not particularly visually appealing, but it works well and that's the important thing. In the top left corner there is an application launcher, where you can activate things like Windows Media Center or the Toshiba DVD Player. Top right gives you functions like fast forward/rewind, track/chapter skip and stop, play and pause (the last two of which seem a bit redundant as you can control them directly using gesture control anyway). Bottom right provides access to the System Menu, where you can control functions like volume, and others not found on the remote - including things like screen brightness, switching between the notebook's screen and an external display, and power.
However, the gesture control needs more work before it can grow to be more than an occasionally useful gimmick. Its main use for now will probably be what Toshiba demonstrates in its cheesy promotional video: operating basic functions on the notebook in your kitchen, when your hands are covered in chocolate, flour, etc.
Further functionality of Toshiba's quad-core engine includes faster video transcoding than your processor or GPU can manage, and more interestingly, face-recognition video indexing. What this means is that you can select a person's face and the software will search for any clips that include a person with those facial features. It's an interesting function that may come in useful if you have a large collection of home movies or want to find scenes involving a particular actor in your film library.
Though the Qosmio G50-115 is not exactly intended for portable use, we still got a fairly respectable battery life for a laptop this size. Technical issues prevented us from running our usual battery testing gauntlet, but subjective testing revealed performance to be pretty similar to the Acer Aspire 8920G, with the Qosmio clocking in 92 minutes running a DVD at full brightness with wireless off. We were hoping for a higher figure from a Centrino 2 platform, but a machine like this is unlikely to away from the wall socket for long.
So overall, we're left with a notebook that provides plenty of power and some unique features thanks to the Quad Core HD engine, good design and build quality, and brilliant audio but a merely average screen. As so often, where this notebook also stumbles a little is price; at around £1,100, it's a good £220 more expensive than the lowest configuration of Acer's 8920G Gemstone. And though the Gemstone doesn't offer a remote, TV Tuner or obviously the Toshiba HD chip, you do get a Full HD 18.4in screen and Blu-ray. On the other hand, until the planned update to the Gemstone range, the G50 also offers Centrino 2, a faster CPU, more hard drive space and a better video card.
An interesting, generally well-built notebook with some unique features including top-class DVD upscaling and excellent speakers, the Toshiba G50-115 is tragically denied a potential Recommended Award by its poor screen. Other than this, however, it's a very good machine so if your budget stretches a little further and Blu-ray isn't of interest, one of the more expensive models with a better screen is worth serious consideration and should deliver the all-round multimedia excellence the Qosmio line has always been known for.