In the half-year since we reviewed the first version of the Toshiba Qosmio F755, I have seen a grand total of zero new autostereoscopic laptops (3D displays that can be viewed without special glasses). Toshiba has not given up, however, and an updated version for 2012 shows some notable improvement over the original, which was a cool prototype, but not quite ready for prime time.
The Qosmio F755-3D150 is $1,299, about $400 less than the 2011 version I reviewed, but still uses the same special eye-tracking software to track the viewer's head movement and adjust the stereoscopic image accordingly, via the built-in Webcam.
Like the Nintendo 3DS, it's a bit of a novelty, but Blu-ray playback felt smoother and the 3D seemed more stable on this new model, even though the viewing angles are very narrow -- watching over someone's shoulder is tricky. Discs of 3D movies such as "Avatar" and "Tron: Legacy" present themselves well, although you have to use Toshiba's proprietary media player to view them in 3D.
The biggest knock against the original was that the 3D support only extended to Blu-ray movies and some types of video files, leaving out video games and streaming video. Thanks to new Nvidia drivers, games now work in 3D, to a point.
While nearly every PC game we tried worked in 3D (at least as well as it would using Nvidia's 3D Vision platform with active shutter glasses), the low-end Nvidia GeForce 540 GPU prevented every current game I tried from being playable in 3D, although many played fine with the 3D effect turned off.
That's a real shame, as an autostereoscopic 3D gaming laptop could be a fun splurge for gamers, and the F755 is a perfectly fine midrange-to-high-end Qosmio otherwise. As it is, unless you have a burning need for glasses-free 3D Blu-ray, we'd wait for better graphics hardware.
|Price as reviewed||$1,299|
|Processor||2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2450M|
|Memory||6GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||750GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GT 540M|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||15.3x10.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.1 pounds/8.1 pounds|
Physically, this Qosmio F755 is identical to the version we reviewed in mid-2011, and many of our observations still stand. This is a fairly standard-looking Qosmio laptop, based on a slightly older design than the most recent non-3D Qosmios we've seen. The outer shell is a textured bright red, with a glossy black interior.
The keyboard has tightly packed keys, while other Toshiba laptops in general seem to be moving toward a universal island-style keyboard. It's usable, but something of a dated look, although there's plenty of room for a full-size number pad and standalone Page Up/Page Down keys. There is a row of touch-sensitive control buttons right above the keyboard, including volume controls and a button to turn the 3D view off and on.
The smallish touch pad has a lighted strip above it that indicates the pad is active. Press a tiny, flush button above it to turn off both the touch pad and the light. I've never been a fan of the Toshiba style of mouse buttons seen here, with their convex shape and glossy plastic.
The original F755 3D laptop felt like more like a proof-of-concept piece than a practical consumer product. The 3D Blu-ray media player was sluggish, and the 3D effect would work sporadically. When everything lined up perfectly, it was a fun, watchable experience, but more trouble than it was worth.
I'm pleased to say this updated version feels much snappier. The Blu-ray playback software still took a bit too long to load, but the 3D effect kicked in automatically, and stayed in focus as long as I kept my head within a reasonable movie-watching zone. Moving more than a few inches in either direction started to degrade the image quickly.
The 3D effect still isn't as crisp as you may be used to from a 3D movie theater or 3D TV with active-shutter glasses. There is a subtle screen-door effect, which gets more obvious the closer you get to the screen, because while the display is a 1,920x1,080-pixel panel, the 3D effect cuts the resolution to 1,366x768 pixels in order to pump out twice as many frames of visual data.
|Toshiba Qosmio F755||Average for category [Midsize]|
|Video||VGA plus HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||Blu-ray ROM/DVD burner||DVD burner|
The dual-core Intel Core i5-2450M CPU is a step down from the quad-core Core i7-2630QM in last year's F755. That, plus trading the original Blu-ray Disc-burning drive for a Blu-ray ROM/DVD burner, helps account for the $400 price drop.
It's still more than fine for just about any task, and still sufficient for the intensive work required for glasses-free 3D video playback. The later half of the year may see an update to Intel's third-generation Core i-series CPUs (also known as Ivy Bridge), but then again, it may not.
I called the Nvidia GeForce 540M graphics midlevel (somewhat charitably) last time. The graphics chip is unchanged in this new version and it's the single biggest problem with the F755. It can certainly handle Blu-ray playback, even in 3D, but gaming is another story.
With the 3D effect turned off, games played fine, especially with detail levels set to medium and the screen resolution knocked back from 1,920x1,080 pixels. With the 3D effect turned on, it was a different story altogether. First, the games all needed to be set to full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution for the 3D effect to kick in (even though that would lower the effective resolution to 1,366x768). Then, nearly every game I tried was simply too choppy to play, even with details set to absolute minimums.
Skyrim was very playable in 2D, too choppy to play in 3D. The same went for Battlefield 3. In the older game Mafia 2, the system ran at 20.3 frames per second in 2D mode, and only 10.3fps in 3D mode -- both at the required full 1080p resolution. Batman: Arkham City was a bit better, just a step below playable in 3D, with every detail option turned to the lowest settings. In our relatively easy Street Fighter IV test, the F755 ran in 2D mode, at 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, at 44.3fps, and 21.6fps in 3D mode. Portal, a game that nearly any laptop can play, worked fine in 3D, even at 1,920x1,080.