Toshiba's Qosmio line has always been the company's experimental playground for high-end systems, from massive gaming rigs to inventive multimedia home theater laptops. While there were a lot of interesting ideas there, you often ended up with slightly overpriced systems with out-of-date video cards or non-functioning Webcam hand gesture controls.
With the new Qosmio X505-Q850, Toshiba has refocused the brand on gaming power, packing in a new mobile Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia's GeForce GTS 250M graphics card (not the very top of the line, but close). While toning down, at least slightly, the over-the-top red flame designs of old.
With a massive 18-inch 1080p display, it's no surprise our review unit included a Blu-ray drive (a bandwagon Toshiba has been reluctant to join, as it was the driving force behind HD-DVD).Those features, (plus a second solid-state hard drive) makes for a system that costs $1,899--not much compared with the tricked-out Alienware laptops of old, but considered very high-end in today's Netbook-obsessed laptop market.
HP, Asus, and others also have Core i7 gaming rigs in the works, which might be worth considering if you want a Core i7 and high-end graphics, without paying for Blu-ray, the SSD drive, and other pricey features.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,899 / $1,499|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM|
|Memory||6GB, 1,066MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||320GB 7,200rpm and 64GB SSD|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel PM55 Express Chipset|
|Graphics||1GB Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||17.4x11.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||18.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||10.4/11.8 pounds|
The design of the Qosmio X505 is a clear evolution of earlier Qosmio systems--it shares the same high-contrast red/black palette and rounded chassis, although it has less of a clamshell-like feel than previous versions. It's still positively huge, and weighs more than 10 pounds, even without the power adapter. Despite the laptop's heft, the back of its lid flexed easily under our fingers--we wouldn't rest anything too heavy on the closed lid.
Instead of the over-the-top red flames we've seen on some Qosmio laptops, this one is primarily black, with a subtle lighter gray crosshatch pattern and metallic red accents. It's either eye-catching or gaudy, depending on your aesthetic sensibilities. The entire thing, including the keyboard, is extremely glossy and picks up fingerprints very easily.
The backlit keyboard has large, flat-topped keys and was comfortable to use, with the exception of an oddly shortened space bar. It feels as if Toshiba could have used a full-size space bar on the keyboard, if not for the media control panel that sits to the left of the space bar. Taking up roughly the same space as a TV remote control might, it includes touch-sensitive volume, mute, and media transport controls, and a button for launching the system's "Eco" mode, which is an energy-efficient power setting preset. Those changes include lowering the screen brightness, turning off the backlit keyboard, and underclocking the CPU's performance. These are all tweaks one could manually dial in using Windows 7's power menus, but it's nice to have them all in one place.
One note about the touch-control media buttons. Each gives off an unbelievably loud "beep" when touched--including the mute button, which pretty much defeats the purpose of a mute button.
The touch pad is oddly small, taking up very little of the available room on the large wrist rest area. One could fairly say that an 18-inch desktop replacement is more likely than not to be controlled via an external mouse, so the touch pad doesn't need to be a focus, but that does little to explain why the two giant red mouse buttons dwarf the touch pad.
One of the highlights is the 18.4-inch wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio display, which offers a massive 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. That's what HDTV types refer to as 1080p, which is the same native resolution as the high-definition Blu-ray format. The big screen looks fantastic, especially when playing HD video. This could easily be the main entertainment screen in a smaller den or dorm room.
|Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850||Average for category [desktop replacement]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA and HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.|
|Data||4 USB 2.0 (1 USB/eSATA), SD card reader, mini-FireWire||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||Blu-ray player/DVD burner||Blu-ray player/DVD burner|
The Qosmio X505-Q850 has a full compliment of ports and connections, including a FireWire port, which is becoming increasingly rare. With an 18-inch 1080p display, a Blu-ray drive seems like a no-brainer to us--and while Toshiba has three different configurations of the X505, all include Blu-ray.
As one of the first laptops to cross our Labs bench with a mobile Intel Core i7 CPU, this is a powerful, performance-oriented system. The 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM is certainly more then capable for handling nearly any computing task you can throw at it. That said, in our benchmark testing, we found laptops that could generate comparable (or even slightly better) scores by using the quad-core 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9300 CPU.
As a gaming machine, the X505 is a capable performer, although perhaps not at the level we'd expect from a nearly $2,000 laptop. Cranking Unreal Tournament III up to 1,900x1,050 pixels, we hit nearly 60 frames per second from the single Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M. However, systems such as the Alienware m17x, with dual GeForce GTX 208M GPUs, got about 170 frames per second on the same test. The moral of this story is that high-end gaming rigs are simply expected to have dual video cards these days, at least once you pass the $1,500 point.
|Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850||(Average watts per hour)|
|Annual energy cost||$17.45|