Just in case you're getting tired of all the attention being paid at the moment to ultraslim, ultralight laptops, it's time to take a look at the other end of the spectrum. The Toshiba Qosmio X775-Q7170 is about as far from an ultrabook as one can get, with a 17.3-inch display, giant 7.5-pound body, and dedicated multimedia controls.
It's also easily the most garish-looking laptop spotted so far in 2012. Not that this should be surprising news -- the Qosmio X775-Q7170 looks identical to the even more expensive Qosmio X775-3DV78 model we reviewed last year. If there's ever been a laptop in need of a visual upgrade, this is it, unless you're into dorm room chic.
For $1,049, you get a decent set of specs, highlighted by a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 560M GPU, along with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a 640GB 7,200rpm hard drive. An Intel Core i7 CPU wouldn't be out of the question, and serious gamers will probably want to trade up to something with a 1,920x1,080-pixel display, rather than the 1,600x900-pixel one here (the same goes for HD video viewers).
As a reasonably priced desktop replacement, the X775 has things pretty set on the inside, but there's a lot to overlook on the outside -- which is a shame, as the world needs more decent, entry-level big-screen multimedia laptops.
|Price as reviewed||$1,049|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2450M|
|Memory||6GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||640GB 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 560M / Intel HD 3000|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||16.3x10.8 inches|
|Height||1.1 - 1.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.3 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||7.5 pounds / 9.7 pounds|
The Qosmio line of laptops from Toshiba has always been about big, powerful desktop replacements. But, year-to-year, or sometimes model-to-model, the various Qosmio laptops often look quite different from each other. This model is a direct continuation of last year's Qosmio look, with textured horizontal lines carved into it and a red-to-silvery-gray lid and interior.
It's clearly meant to be more of a "gamer" look, with chrome plastic speaker grilles above the keyboard, which we previously said looked like pimp-my-ride rims on last year's model (a reference nearly as dated as this design). Red LED lights on the touch pad and the strip of media control buttons add to the Alienware-lite effect. The entire thing looks and feels like overly glossy plastic, and is a sharp break from the current trends in laptop aesthetics toward better materials, one-piece construction, and sophisticated, crossover-friendly designs. As we pointed out about the last X775 laptop we reviewed, this glossy plastic veneer may turn off people looking for higher-quality materials and construction.
The raised island-style keys are similar to what we've seen on other Toshiba laptops, with large Shift, Ctrl, and other important keys, and separate Page Up, Page Down, and other navigation keys. In my hands-on experience, this specific Toshiba keyboard design works better in bigger laptops than smaller ones (such as the Portege Z835 ultrabook). There's room for a full number pad on the right-hand side, which is helpful for some types of strategy gaming.
The medium-sized touch pad leaves plenty of dead wrist-rest space, but is responsive enough, with a pleasant matte finish that doesn't have too much finger drag. A red LED strip along the pad's top edge turns itself off once you hit a small button above it, which also deactivates the pad itself for those times when you're using a mouse.
Previous X775 laptops we've reviewed have had full 1,920x1,080-pixel screens, but this more midprice version has a 1,600x900-pixel display. That's what we'd expect to see in a $1,000-plus 13- or 14-inch laptop. On a 17-inch screen, it just doesn't look right, especially as this isn't inexpensive enough to really be a budget laptop. Screen quality is, as usual for Qosmio laptops, excellent, and the audio from the Harman Kardon speakers (yes, the ones under the ugly chrome-finish plastic grilles) is also impressive.
|Toshiba Qosmio X775-Q7170||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA plus HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks.||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, 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|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner, optional Blu-ray player|
One of the things I like about reviewing desktop replacement laptops is the chance to luxuriate in a generous selection of ports and connections. Too many smaller laptops have turned toward minimalism, cutting out video and data connections in an effort to slim down.
The Qosmio X775 does OK in this category, but doesn't go overboard. There are four USB ports, including one USB 3.0 (which includes sleep-and-charge, allowing accessories to charge even when the laptop is off), but no eSATA. HDMI, VGA, and an Ethernet jack are all things we'd expect to see on just about any laptop, but they're starting to vanish on some of the slimmest ultrabooks, so don't take them for granted.
For a machine that is at least partially targeted at gamers, one might be a little concerned that this model only has a dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, not one of the more powerful quad-core Core i7 processors found in many high-end gaming systems. For most tasks, even games, however, the hardware included here is perfectly fine, especially as it's backed up by a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 560M GPU, clearly the highlight of this laptop.
The GPU provides the muscle needed to play most PC games at decent detail levels with good frame rates, especially as the resolution is capped at 1,600x900 pixels (which itself is not ideal for serious gaming). In the very challenging Metro 2033 at 1,600x900 pixels, the system ran at 15.7 frames per second (which is actually pretty decent), or 23.7 frames per second at 1,366x768 pixels. An anecdotal test of Skyrim found that the game ran very smoothly at 1,600x900 pixels, with graphics options set to "ultra." The X775 will give you a good-to-very-good gaming experience, if you don't mind the lower screen resolution.