The topic of HDMI brings me neatly onto HD DVD playback on the Qosmio, which is obviously a pretty important feature. Since the new generation of graphics processors from nVidia and AMD include dedicated video decoding, playing HD DVDs, or Blu-ray discs for that matter, on a PC or notebook has become a great deal easier.
However, that doesn’t mean it is all plane sailing as it’s still necessary to ensure that any demanding programs, especially Anti-Virus software such as the bundled Norton, aren’t running in the background. Once this has been dealt with, however, HD DVD playback on Qosmio is smooth and without fault. Monitoring CPU usage during playback showed that the GPU was doing its job, with CPU utilisation hovering between a comfortable 50 to 60 per cent. By way of reiterating a point, however, in the region of 250MB of system memory is also used; thus reinforcing the point that you need shutdown superfluous background services.
With all this talk to “connecting to HDTVs” though, it’s worth noting this isn’t an entirely straightforward process. First, once connected via HDMI, you’ll need to make sure you’re only using the TV display, since you can’t play an HD DVD in extended or clone display mode. Next, you’ll have to contend with Windows/nVidia display drivers – or a combination of the two – failing miserably to remember the settings you give them when you restart. You’ll also need to fiddle with the audio settings to ensure that it’s outputting over the HDMI, since it won’t switch to this automatically.
None of these are soul crushing problems, but together they do make the process of using the Qosmio as a standalone HD DVD player rather awkward. In short, despite what people may tell you, it’ll never replace a dedicated player. It’s also worth remembering that this isn’t in condemnation of the Qosmio, more simply a fact that can’t be avoided.
To test the writing abilities of the HD DVD-R drive, Verbatim was kind enough to send us some single-layer 15GB writable discs and I set up a 13GB burn using the elegantly simple software provided by Toshiba. Having set the test running at around 16:30 I was somewhat concerned that I’d be waiting a while, however, to my great relief, the run was completed just under an hour later; saving me from a late night in the office. The whole process was painless and, given the amount of data, the hour burning time was pretty reasonable.
What isn’t so reasonable, however, is some of the software Toshiba chooses to put on its machines. One can hardly argue with including the DVD authoring software and various other semi-essential bits and pieces, but Toshiba continues to persevere with including such dullards as Toshiba Flash Cards and Desktop SMS, which only take up valuable system memory and ought to be expunged with immediate effect. As should Norton Internet Security for that matter, though Toshiba can’t be blamed too much for bundling a trial version of such a well known product, even if it is a renowned resource hog. Not that I’m suggesting that you run without anti-virus software, just that something more streamline might be preferable.