Image quality was boosted by the fact that the G30’s 17in display features full 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, enabling you to see the full resolution from HD DVD. The high contrast coating is perfect for watching movies on and for games too, though the usual bugbear of reflections will cause an issue under fluorescent lights and will require the screen to be angled. There is some colour shift when viewing from the sides but it’s watchable. The drive can also read and burn any flavour of both DVD and CD, which is great news but unfortunately it won’t burn any HD DVD discs – a shame when both the Blu-ray drives we’ve seen in systems have been recordable.
Carrying on with the buttons on the top of the display are Play/Pause, Stop and Skip buttons for use while the Toshiba HD DVD software is running. There are hardware buttons for increasing or lowering screen brightness and to the right of this is a button that’s labelled Dolby. This gives direct access to one of the best features of the notebook. The SigmaTel Audio chip features Dolby Home Theatre certification, which you can learn more about here. From this interface you can activate Dolby Headphone, which adds spacialisation effects to stereo sources.
I played around with this for a while and it does make an impact adding and a sense of depth space to the sound. While standard stereo is left to right this adds a sense of forward and back. You can also add Pro Logic II effects and a virtual speaker mode for a 5.1 effect from headphones. I kept the Dolby Headphone feature on most of the time but sometimes you might prefer to turn it off and having access to this quickly via a hardware button is a great touch. It really makes this feel very much like an entertainment machine. Finally, at the right is a button to enable the TV Out.
The large size of the notebook makes typing on the Toshiba a real pleasure – the keys are full size and are very firm with no dodgy flex. The trackpad is a tad small and the buttons beneath it do look a bit cheap but they feel OK to use. The Delete key however has been shifted to the bottom row while the Windows key has been moved from bottom left to top right. The space bar is smaller than normal but that didn’t cause a problem. If you need to work on text, the higher resolution on a relatively small screen could be a problem so pressing the Function key and space bar lets you easily switch between resolutions.
Another very nice touch is the volume dial on the right hand side. This works in every application and is very easy and convenient to use, with an on screen indicator of the sound level. The speakers are provided by Harmon Kardon and are located underneath different looking spoked grilles. They volume is quite loud and it’s fine when you’re sitting in front of the system.