So you might have heard about this thing called 3D, that, we're reliably informed, is right on the cusp of becoming the greatest technological innovation ever to grace our miserable mortal lives. TV and movies are all well and good, but if you ask us, gaming is where the real value of 3D lies.
Here, then, is the Toshiba Satellite A665, a 15.6-inch gaming laptop that ships with Nvidia's 3D vision kit to get you gaming in three glorious planes of existence. Our configuration, the A665-11Z, can be yours for £1,300 and is available from PC World.
Business up front
We usually expect high-spec gaming and multimedia machines to look pretty flashy -- a fewhere, the odd luminous speaker there -- but the A665 actually looks pretty normal. The lid has a matte black finish with an attractive chain pattern that creeps inside across the wrist rest.
The Satellite logo in the bottom left of the laptop is illuminated with white LEDs, as is a strip across the top of the trackpad, and the keyboard is backlit with the same gentle white luminescence. Far from being boring, we think the A665 looks rather classy.
Around the edges of this demure monster you'll find VGA and HDMI outputs, an eSATA/USB port, Ethernet port, media card reader, four USB ports, a Blu-ray rewritable drive and 3.5mm sockets for headphones and a mic -- essential if you're into multiplayer gaming. On the left side, the various ports are a bit cramped to make room for a truly massive fan exhaust, so if you're plugging in a couple of really bulky USB devices you might have to plan out your ports carefully.
This laptop is slim and light for a high-spec machine. It measures 397 by 254 by 35mm (at it's thickest point) and weighs 2.9kg, so it won't cause your spine to splinter if you try and lift it. In fact, it's comfortable to hold, so if you need to drag it around to your friend's house, it's quite manageable.
The trackpad is pleasantly large and very responsive. We found the keyboard comfortable to use and sensibly laid out -- even if the keys don't offer as much travel as other laptops.
The 15.6-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, and this panel really is one of the A665's strongest assets. It's bold, bright and, while it isn't Full HD resolution, it's high enough to keep things looking really crisp. The best thing, though, is that this display has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz (required to handle the 3D goodness). Whack this on and you'll be impressed at the smoothness with which your normal 2D computing moves -- it makes boring tasks like Web browsing and just skipping around the operating system feel a whole lot more luxurious.
Party in the back
Alright, let's check out the 3D magic. In the box, you'll find the Nvidia 3D vision kit, which comprises an Nvidia IR emitter, which plugs into the laptop via USB, and the 3D-vision glasses. The glasses communicate with the laptop via the IR emitter to deliver a stereoscopic image on the display. If you need to adjust the depth of the 3D effect, there's a dial on the back of the IR emitter that'll do just that.
Set-up is pretty simple. From the Nvidia control panel, you run a set-up wizard, which we found made things really straightforward. We encountered an error the first time around, and had to hunt for the option to set the refresh rate to the requisite 120Hz, but after that, things worked well.