With the lid closed, the Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513 looks quite similar to the original Qosmio E15-AV101--it's silver colored, has lots of ports and lights around the edges, and is as thick as a King James Bible. But when it's open, you realize that it's a totally redesigned--and unique-looking--laptop. Weighing about 9.5 pounds (just more than 11 pounds with its massive AC adapter), and measuring 16 inches wide, 11.5 inches deep, and nearly 2 inches thick, the Qosmio G25-AV513 is simply gigantic, even for a desktop replacement. Though the shiny, black-plastic interior is a fingerprint magnet (Toshiba includes a polyester chamois for this very reason), it's attractive and makes the Qosmio G25-AV513 as fit for an upscale living room as for a standard home office. It runs quietly and does not get particularly hot.
The keyboard has large, firm keys, though the spacebar and the backspace keys are a bit smaller than those on the Sony VAIO VGN-A690; also, there is no separate number pad, as found on the HP Pavilion zd8000 and the Fujitsu LifeBook N6000. Above the keyboard resides a row of feather-touch system-control buttons that include a full complement of A/V controls: two keys that send you directly to Media Center's TV and DVD players, two keys to adjust the screen's brightness, and two more to send or receive a video signal. All glow a pleasing blue when lit. The Qosmio G25-AV513's touch pad and mouse buttons are far too small for our taste, and there's no way to turn the touch pad off when you're using an external mouse--an extremely useful feature found on the Pavilion zd8000 and one that we'd like to see on every desktop-replacement laptop.
High-quality Harman Kardon stereo speakers sit at the upper corners; they sounded extremely loud, crisp, and clear, though they were muffled when the lid was shut--other laptops with front-edge speakers, such as the Pavilion zd8000 and the Dell Inspiron 9300, sound good even with the lid closed. A particularly nice feature is the prominent external volume control wheel, about the size of a quarter, located to the right of the keyboard; nearby, six dash-shaped blue lights show the volume level.
This notebook has one of the brightest wide-aspect 17-inch displays we've seen on a laptop--on a par with the superbright Fujitsu LifeBook N6000, slightly brighter than the Sony VAIO VGN-A690, and exponentially brighter than the Pavilion zd8000. The Qosmio G25-AV513's 1,440x900 native resolution (also found on the Apple 17-inch PowerBook), affords a large amount of screen real estate without forcing text to a painfully tiny size.
You aren't going to find many laptops with a wider assortment of ports and connections than that of the Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513. The left edge is home to a modem port, two USB 2.0 ports, a Wi-Fi on/off switch, an optical audio/headphone jack, and a microphone jack. The right edge has both PCI Express and PC Card slots, as well as a 3-in-1 media-card reader and a four-pin FireWire port. In addition to two more USB 2.0 ports, the back edge accommodates S-Video in and out, composite in, component out, Ethernet, and an input for a coaxial antenna (a.k.a. your cable TV wire). Our one beef is that the port labels are small and virtually invisible, blending in with the black plastic of the laptop's edge. The cool, state-of-the-art, slot-loading, double-layer, multiformat DVD drive needs no label, however, and it sits on the front edge.
The Qosmio G25-AV513's Media Center remote control provides a full complement of multimedia controls, though you need to connect the included IR receiver to the notebook before you can use it. We also received a very long USB 2.0 cable, a coaxial cable dongle, a set of composite cables, and a set of optical audio cables. The laptop comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, as well as a nice package of software, including Nero and InterVideo WinDVD Creator 2.0 for disc burning, plus a number of system utilities.