It’s now a whole year since we reviewed our first laptop with a writable Blu-ray drive, in the form of the Sony AR 11s. Since then Sony has gone on to incrementally improve its high-end media notebook, adding in better processors, graphics chips and the like. Meanwhile the main competitor to Sony in this market, Toshiba’s Qosmio range, hasn’t quite managed to compete on a like-for-like basis. While it’s G30, reviewed last November, managed to include a HD DVD-ROM drive, it has taken until now for Toshiba to manage to enable writing as well. Although the drive isn’t compatible with HD DVD-RW discs.
The notebooks carrying the new drives, then, are the Qosmio G40 and G45. At around £1,600 and £2,000 respectively, both notebooks feature an nVidia 8600 GT, 2GB of 667MHz RAM, a 1,920 x 1,200 17in screen and Draft-N wireless. The differences come in processor speed and hard drive size, the G40 having a 2.0GHz T7300 and 250GB drive, while the G45 has a 2.4GHz T7700 and two 200GB drives (in either RAID 0 or 1). Lastly, Toshiba will bundle Vista Ultimate edition for your cash, rather than Home Premium as usually found in notebooks.
For the same money as the G45 Sony offers the AR 41s, which can use re-writable discs, has almost identical specs elsewhere, except for a 2.2GHz (T7500) processor and 320GB hard drive capacity. It is worth noting that Sony has no direct rival to the G40 with a Blu-ray drive, only it's £2,000 notebook has that. If I were being picky I'd say the Sony wins on styling, but that's a very subjective thing and ultimately the decision between the two companies will come down to which format you've chosen to back.