The all-in-one touch market is an odd one, one that many have declined to touch due to "gorilla arm". We sympathise, but there is apparently some market for them, as they just keep coming.
The latest to cross our view is Toshiba's Qosmio DX730. Traditionally the Qosmio brand has been Toshiba's gaming laptop range — while the DX730 does contain a GeForce GT 540M, it's not a high end gaming GPU. Nay, this Qosmio's purpose is to be a multimedia king.
This means a 23-inch, 1920x0180 screen; TV tuner, Blu-ray drive and Windows Media Center remote, something Toshiba has ascribed to; although the last is incredibly thick and unwieldy, and the back button small enough to be difficult to press. Toshiba's bundled in something extra though, and that's two HDMI ports. Yes, you can use this PC as a monitor.
The functionality is basic: no 24p support, didn't score a single point on our HQV tests, and exhibited severe judder in both our Mission Impossible: III scenes. Not so great for movies — it may however suit casual gamers, who generally don't need to worry about these issues.
Audio performance is slightly better, with speakers big enough to avoid the auto-attenuation issues that plague most laptops. While bass response is decent, the overall tone is muffled, and vocals are pushed forward while the mid range sounds oddly restrained.
The whole multimedia aim of the DX730 is in direct conflict with it being a touch screen — watching movies on a high-gloss, fingerprint laden screen isn't exactly pleasant, with dark scenes highlighting the shortcomings of such an amalgamation. Throw in the fact that it's a TN panel, and you've got less than optimal viewing angles as well.
The touch isn't spectacular either: running off infrared technology may be cheaper, but as a result the Qosmio only really understands two points of touch and can get confused if you're doing more than just jabbing the screen. This isn't specifically a Toshiba issue, but a limitation of the technology.
The Windows touch experience remains lacklustre at best too — while Toshiba's bundled Microsoft's Touch Pack for Windows 7, like most Windows touch software it only highlights the novelty and shortcomings of the platform.
In the name of keeping things beautiful but definitely not functional, outside of the power button, Toshiba's put its control buttons for the Qosmio on the left hand side rather than on the front. We've lambasted monitor manufacturers for this, and the same ideal applies here: usability significantly decreases, requiring the user to shift position to access the device's functions. If you must hide the buttons away, at least put labels on the front to keep them accessible.
Ergonomics aside, there's buttons to switch between video inputs, volume and brightness controls. Toshiba's been clever and included a button here as well that just turns the screen off, rather than the whole machine, which is appreciated.