The Toshiba Qosmio is a well established entertainment notebook, and in many respects it stands smack bang in the middle of the HD media war, thanks to the HD-DVD player installed. This most recent model, the G30 (PQG32A-02V01W), follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by taking the battle a step further. Sony recently released its VAIO VGN-AR38G with a Blu-ray recorder, now the Toshiba G30's HD-DVD player is also an HD-DVD recorder.
With a minimum capacity of 15GB for a single layer one sided disc, and an ever increasing potential maximum, the opportunities for massive storage grow everyday. This, and the ability to either watch HD-DVDs on the machine's own 17in 1920x1200 high resolution screen, or output to a TV via HDMI are certainly key features. The design of the chassis is very much in line with a set-top box. The HD-DVD drive ejects out the front like a set-top box HD-DVD player might and the unit even looks like a set top box HD-DVD player with the lid closed. If you set the Qosmio up so it won't sleep with the lid closed you could actually use it like a set-top box HD-DVD player.
To facilitate this, the Qosmio G30 has HDMI, S-Video and VGA outputs, but also has a video input for video capture (via a supplied adapter). It also has a remote control and IR blaster extensions so it can be placed out of normal infrared reach and still be accessed by remote.
However, it's not just a glorified HD-DVD player. The Qosmio G30 also scored 83 in our WorldBench 6 test, the best result at the time of writing, outperforming the Dell [prodid:3533]], its closest competitor on 81.
Toshiba can thank Intel's Core 2 Duo T7400 2.16GHz CPU and 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM for that score. The GeForce Go 7600 graphics chip helps smooth out video and colour, and helps take the strain off the CPU when playing video files. It may not be the most high-end gaming card, but still holds its own with older games. In 3DMark 2006 it scored only 2072, while in 3DMark 2001 SE it scored a reasonable 19170.
In our CDEX test, where we encode 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, the Qosmio G30 did well, finishing the task in 128 seconds. This, again, is thanks to the CPU. If the Qosmio is to be your jukebox, it's nice to know that encoding your entire music library won't take too long.
Battery tests were also fairly impressive. By its sheer size and design it's clear the Qosmio G30 was never intended to be a portable device. At 4.7kg without its power supply and a hefty 5.5kg with it, even the Governor of California would struggle to carry it around. Yet in our worst case scenario battery test, where we loop a DVD to drain the battery, it did quite well.
This test is considered a worst-case scenario because it uses the speakers, the optical drive and the core components, such as the LCD and CPU, to put maximum strain on the battery. In this test the Qosmio lasted 93 minutes, a score comparable to smaller, less power hungry notebooks. Granted, the bigger the notebook, the bigger the battery, but it's still nice to see. We also did the same test using an HD-DVD, Mission Impossible III, which drained the battery considerably faster - just 54 minutes. Toshiba supplies HD media software for HD-DVD movies, but all your other media needs are taken care of through Windows Home Premium's Media Center software.
Not only does the HD-DVD look stunning on the bright, clear, high-resolution screen, but the sound is great too, with premium quality harmon/kardon speakers installed. Bass frequencies sound great and there's no shortage of volume. A set of media controls sit above the keyboard just below the screen. This not only includes play/pause, stop, skip forward and back, but has a recording button as well, which comes in handy when watching your favourite show with the installed digital TV-tuner.
In line with this, a hotkey for Windows Media Center Live TV joins the rest of the media keys, as does a set of brightness controls, a Dolby virtual surround sound button and a video-out hotkey (for sending the display output to an external display), and a music player shortcut. On the side of the unit is a large wheel for volume control. Just in case that's not enough shortcuts and hotkeys, the touchpad is a dual-function touchpad.
A quick tap to the icon in the top right corner of the pad switches it from a pointing device to a volume control with mail, network profile and printer shortcuts, as well as three programmable hotkeys. Blue backlights make the icons clear and indicate that you're in shortcut mode, not touchpad mode.
The keyboard is fairly comfortable to use and the touchpad is responsive. Toshiba has a habit of placing the Windows key and mouse 'right-click' key in the top right of the keyboard, where budding Windows shortcut users will find it hard to reach. Below the keyboard is a biometric fingerprint reader for added security. One small problem is the amount of heat that rises through the keyboard. We noticed this in High Performance battery mode, so lower power settings might be less intense.
Connectivity includes four USB 2.0 ports, a mini FireWire port, PC Card and PCI Express card slots and a media card reader supporting SD, MMC and xD media cards. For networking there's a gigabit Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g and Buetooth 2.0.