Editors' note: This review is part of our Back-to-School 2008 roundup, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
The Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q701 marks a new look for the Qosmio brand. Gone are the subdued blacks and silvers of years past; in their place come stylized red flames and glowing red LEDs. Also out the window are the sky-high prices of previous-generation Qosmios; the X305-Q701 costs just $1,399. Fortunately, some things haven't changed: thanks to its four Harman Kardon speakers and built-in subwoofer, the Qosmio X305-Q701 still produces some of the best sound we've heard on a laptop. And its case still comes stocked with the latest generation of components from Intel and Nvidia.
Unfortunately, those components didn't give the Qosmio an advantage on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks, where it couldn't match such competitive systems as the HP Pavilion dv7-1025nr and the Gateway P-7811FX. In fact, for just a little bit more than the Qosmio X305-Q701, the Pavilion dv7-1025nr provides a better movie-watching experience, while the Gateway P-7811FX provides better framerates for gaming.
|Processor||2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7350|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel PM45 Express|
|Memory||4GB at 1066MHz|
|Hard drive||200GB at 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||512MB Nvidia GeForce 9700M GTS|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||16.2 x 12 x 1.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||9.0 / 11.2 pounds|
The Qosmio X305-Q701's design is anything but subtle. Its red lid is covered with almost abstract, two-tone flames, and the center prominently features "Qosmio" in inch-tall silver letters. Inside, the display bezel is a deeper red, while the shiny black keyboard and deck are bordered with metallic red. The laptop is also quite massive, measuring 2.25 inches thick at the back (a mere 1.7 inches at the front) and 16 inches wide. By contrast, both the HP Pavilion dv7-1025nr and Gateway P-7811FX top out at 1.7 inches thick and will take up a little less space on your desk. While the Qosmio's 9-pound weight falls within our expectations for a desktop replacement, its 2.2-pound power brick does not; though the system is still technically portable, there's no way you'll be carrying it around campus with any regularity.
The 1,440x900 resolution on the Qosmio X305-Q701's 17-inch display could be sharper; we've become accustomed to seeing 1,680x1,050 or even 1,920x1,200 on other desktop replacements. The slightly lower resolution on the Qosmio makes text and icons easy to read, but images and movies lack the crispness we've seen on other media-oriented systems, including the HP Pavilion dv7-1025nr.
A row of red light-touch controls stretch across the top of the keyboard and include not only the expected media player launch key, playback controls, and mute button, but also a button to turn off the LED case lights, one to turn on the Webcam, and one to launch the included Dolby Home Theater software. As with the company's Satellite models, the Qosmio X305-Q701's keys are made of very glossy plastic that fits the overall aesthetic but is so shiny as to be distracting. Fortunately, the keyboard is comfortable; with your eyes closed it feels like any other full-size board. Because of the laptop's broad case, there's also room for a 10-key numeric keypad.
We do think the Qosmio's wide touch pad could use a bit more height, but it is nevertheless functional for those few times you aren't using an external mouse. We're not fond of the glowing red stripe across the top of the touch pad (which we've seen in white on recent Satellite models), but we do appreciate that it can be disabled with one of the light-touch controls. We wish the laptop also incorporated a hardware touch pad on/off button like the one found on HP's Pavilion line.
The Qosmio's case features some additional small design elements worth noting. First, the tray-loading DVD drive is located on the laptop's front edge, which is either convenient or annoying, depending on where things pile up on your desk. Likewise, the headphone and microphone jacks, along with a handy volume wheel, are unconventionally located on the laptop's right edge. A hardware switch for the Wi-Fi radio is within easy reach on the front edge. And the back two corners of the keyboard deck, next to the speakers, glow red for no particular reason (as with the touch pad stripe, these lights can be turned off).
|Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q701||Average for desktop replacement category|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI, Webcam||VGA-out, S-Video, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone and microphone jacks, built-in microphone||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader, eSATA||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner with Labelflash||DVD burner|
With four Harman Kardon speakers and a built-in subwoofer, the Qosmio X305-Q701 is one of the best-sounding laptops around and could easily function as both computer and stereo in a cramped dorm room. Other high-end features around the Qosmio's case include an HDMI port for high-definition video and an eSATA port that's good for hooking up external hard drives. The inclusion of Bluetooth helps us forgive Toshiba for stocking the Qosmio X305-Q701 with just three USB ports (one less than average). All three USB ports feature Toshiba's Sleep-and-Charge technology, which means you can plug in and charge USB devices (iPods, mobile phones, and so on) even if the laptop is powered off, as long as it's plugged into an outlet.
The Qosmio X305-Q701 is a single fixed configuration sold only in retail outlets. Its $1,399 price buys you the entry level of Intel's latest "power optimized" processors, the 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo P7350. The configuration also includes a generous 4GB of fast 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM (with 64-bit Windows Vista to take advantage of it) and a 7,200rpm hard drive with 200GB of capacity. Despite its latest-generation components, the Qosmio fell behind on CNET Labs' Multitasking benchmark, where it trailed behind the HP Pavilion dv7-1025nr and Gateway P-7811FX, both of which are equipped with a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor. The Qosmio X305-Q701's RAM allotment helped it stay more on pace with those competing systems during our Photoshop test, but it still trailed the Pavilion.
The Qosmio X305-Q701 was more competitive when it came to our Unreal Tournament 3 gaming test, where its Nvidia GeForce 9700M GTS graphics, with 512MB of VRAM, displayed 78.6 frames per second (at 1,280x800 resolution). But while this rate is nearly twice as much as the Pavilion dv7-1025nr, it still can't match the eminently playable 117.9 fps posted by the Gateway P-7811FX, which costs just $50 more.
The Qosmio X305-Q701 lasted just short of an hour and a half on our battery benchmark. We don't usually expect such a monstrous laptop to last long on battery power, but it is worth noting that both other desktop replacements in our roundup of high-end back-to-school laptops--the Pavilion dv7-1025nr and the Gateway P-7811FX--lasted nearly twice as long as the Toshiba.