Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV600
Since its debut in August 2004, Toshiba's Qosmio line has been at the forefront of laptop technology. With the third-generation model, the Qosmio G35-AV600, Toshiba again delivers a best-in-class multimedia experience that's built on a state-of-the-art set of components, including Intel's new Core Duo chipset, and includes virtually every feature under the sun. As with past models, the G35-AV600 offers one of the best 17-inch wide-screen displays around, a double-layer DVD drive, and an integrated TV tuner, as well as a full complement of ports and connections, a rocking set of stereo speakers, and an unparalleled set of multimedia controls. Thankfully, the price has dropped to $2,399 (from $3,000 for past top-of-the-line models), but this laptop is still a bit much for the casual user. You can certainly get many of these features, albeit in scaled-down form, in other entertainment-themed notebooks, many of which, such as the , the Dell Inspiron E1705, the Fujitsu LifeBook N series, and the , start at a significantly lower price point. The one thing that's missing from the latest-generation Qosmio, however, is strong gaming performance; unlike past models, the G35-AV600 features a rather low-end GPU, and its gaming performance suffers as a result. Still, if you're looking for a full-featured digital-entertainment system that's portable enough to move from room to room, the Qosmio G35-AV600 is hands-down the best of the lot.
The Qosmio G35-AV600 is a very big laptop, even for a desktop replacement. Slightly heavier than the , it runs about 16 inches wide, 11.5 inches deep, and just shy of 2 inches thick; it weighs 10.2 pounds, or 11.5 pounds with its big AC adapter.
The keyboard has large, firm keys, though there is no separate number pad, as found on the Pavilion dv8000 and the LifeBook N6210. Above the keyboard resides the most complete set of system and A/V controls we've seen on a laptop; highlights include dedicated controls for display brightness (a rarity on laptops), video signal in and out, and Dolby Home Theater sound. The Qosmio G35-AV600's touch pad is another unique touch; embedded in it are a number of configurable quick-launch buttons, as well as a volume control. We found it a bit finicky to use but appreciated the ingenuity. Still, we wish there were a touch-pad on/off button--one of our favorite features for a desktop replacement.
Otherwise, the Qosmio G35-AV600 offers a complete array of multimedia features and connections for audio (external volume control wheel, headphone and microphone jacks, S/PDIF jack), video (S-Video input and output, VGA out, coaxial input for connecting to a TV signal cable), and data (four USB 2.0 ports, one four-pin FireWire port). Networking connections include 10/100/1000 Ethernet, an Intel 802.11a/b/g wireless, Bluetooth, and a V.92 modem. Finally, you get one slot for a PC Card and another for an ExpressCard; a 5-in-1 card reader; and a cool, slot-loading double-layer DVD drive. 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 Qosmio G35-AV600 is no joke when it comes to audio performance. The triple threat of a 1-bit digital amplifier, Dolby Home Theater, and Harman Kardon stereo speakers delivers extremely loud, crisp, and full sound. Still, the speakers' positioning, below the display, makes for muffled sound when the lid is shut--other laptops with front-edge speakers, such as the Pavilion dv8000 and the Inspiron E1705, sound good even with the lid closed.
This notebook has one of the brightest wide-aspect 17-inch displays we've seen on a laptop--on a par with high-end models from Sony and Fujitsu and significantly brighter than Dell's and HP's (though the new dual-lamp dv8000 model comes closer). That said, the Qosmio G35-AV600's 1,440x900 native resolution isn't as fine as we'd like and affords less screen real estate than the Dell and HP models, which feature a superfine 1,920x1,200 native resolution.
The Qosmio G35-AV600's Media Center remote control provides a full complement of multimedia controls and the built-in IR window means that you don't need an external receiver--an improvement over the previous model. 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, as well as a nice package of software, including Nero and InterVideo WinDVD Creator 2 for disc burning, plus a number of system utilities.
As with previous models, Toshiba stuffed the Qosmio G35-AV600 full of high-end components to support its wide-ranging multimedia aspirations. For the $2,399 price, you get a 1.83GHz Intel Centrino Core Duo processor; 1GB of DDR2 RAM; a huge, 160GB SATA hard drive spinning at a brisk 5,400rpm; the one exception is Nvidia's bottom-rung GeForce Go 7300 GPU, with 256MB of dedicated video memory. These components delivered very strong performance in CNET Labs' benchmarks, and the Qosmio G35-AV600 turned in a SysMark score that was almost 20 percent higher than the Qosmio G25-AV513's, and well ahead of the single-core competition, including the VAIO VGN-AX570G, the Pavilion dv8000, and the LifeBook N6210. That said, the top-shelf Inspiron E1705 we tested, which costs almost $200 more, bested the Qosmio G35-AV600 by a slight margin in our SysMark test, probably due to its slightly faster processor.
The biggest surprise, however, was that the Qosmio G35-AV600 fell flat in our gaming tests; the previous version came with an Nvidia GPU that was one step down from the top, but the Qosmio G35-AV600's GeForce Go 7300 GPU is pure entry-level. Equipped with the GeForce Go 7300 GPU and 256MB of VRAM, it still managed to turn in only 7.5 measly frames per second (fps) in our Doom 3 test. The Inspiron E1705, for contrast, scored 56.5fps.