Though it doesn't come cheap, the Toshiba Qosmio G30 is an excellent notebook that functions under a number of guises, suiting almost every room in the house. It packs in some of the latest top-end hardware, including an HD-DVD player and an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU.
Its bulky chassis with a 17.1in LCD screen gives it more of a desktop replacement feel than a portable notebook. With the lid closed, the Qosmio G30 takes on the form of a set-top DVD player; several design features, including the HDMI output, front loading optical drive and supplied remote allow strong practicality in this role.
The G30 is a powerhouse, albeit one which weighs 5.5kg with power supply. The large screen has a high-definition resolution of 1920x1200 to get the best of HD-DVDs. Toshiba has used two lamps to give the screen extra brightness and the resulting image is crisp and clear, suffering only mild colour inversion at sharp vertical angles. The installed Harmon Kardon speakers produce an equally nice sound to match the increased image quality, making multimedia playback on this machine a pleasant experience. A 5-in-1 media card reader gives you quick access to your SD/xD/MS/MS-Pro/MMC digital media cards and there's also a DVB-T HD (high definition) TV-tuner so you can watch live television. All media functionality, such as photo and movie viewing, as well as live TV can be easily accessed through Windows Media Center Edition's (MCE) interface.
An Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 (2.13GHz) CPU with 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM and a GeForce Go 7600 graphics card ensure this machine can handle peak performance in all areas. The Qosmio G30 scored a very healthy 117 in our World Bench 5 tests. It also completed our encoding test, where we encode 53minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, in one minute and 59 seconds. Although the G30 has been designed to stay plugged into a power source, our DVD rundown test proved a surprise. The Qosmio played a movie for almost two hours before the battery died.
Dual 160GB hard drives offer plenty of storage. In addition, you can use Toshiba's RAID 1 automated backup system to mirror your data off one hard drive to the other. One advantage Sony's Blu-Ray VAIO notebook has over the Qosmio though, regardless of the format differences, is that the Blu-ray drive is a burner as well as a player.
The Qosmio G30 keyboard takes some time to grasp, but there's a host of shortcut keys that are very handy. These include media controls, as well as a Windows MCE shortcut and a video-out hotkey to quickly switch to your TV or other screen as the main output. All Toshiba notebooks use the dual function touchpad with volume controls and software shortcuts to your default Internet browser and e-mail program.
There's plenty of connectivity as well. On top of the card reader and HDMI port there's an S-Video in and another S-Video out port, a VGA out port and two headphone jacks. There's also two infra-red (IR) extender ports and extender cables for the internal receiver, meaning you can control the Qosmio by remote, even if it's behind closed doors. The G30 includes four USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g, a PC card slot (type II) and an Express card slot.