Toshiba Qosmio G15-AV501
At a Glance
Dual hard drives and stand-alone DVD and CD playing are the highlights of the Toshiba Qosmio G15-AV501. This huge 9.5-pound gray-and-silver Windows Media Center laptop includes its own quick-start multimedia applications. The apps are a bit bare-bones, but you can watch TV or a DVD or listen to a CD without booting Windows. Control the action with the included remote or the row of media buttons at the top of the Qosmio keyboard. A record button lets you copy the CD you're currently playing to the G15-AV501's hard drive. The picture is big and sharp, and the notebook's built-in sound is terrific, even though it lacks a subwoofer.
This big multimedia laptop is well equipped, with a thick, sturdy, 17-inch-wide TruBrite screen that's easy to read at a native resolution of 1440 by 900 pixels. In addition to an external USB IR transceiver box for the remote and a coax-in port (which requires a short adapter), it has both S-Video-out and component-out as well as both S-Video-in and composite-in video ports. The Windows Media Center Edition application worked well, allowing us to move among our favorite multimedia activities. However, unlike most Media Center Edition machines, this Qosmio doesn't come with a radio tuner. (That's no great loss; most of the ones we've seen have been slow and hardly worth the trouble of setting up.)
The black keyboard, set in a sparkly silver upper frame, is firm and laid out well, though there is no numeric keypad. We found the small silver touchpad easy to use, but wish the mouse buttons were a little larger and easier to reach. A three-in-one card reader, a multiformat DVD burner, and a wireless communications switch are nice features.
This Qosmio's side-by-side 60GB and 40GB hard drives add up to a comfortable 100GB for your multimedia storage needs. Both the drives and the two RAM slots are easy to reach for future upgrading. They're located in separate compartments covered by slim panels, each held in by a couple of screws.
Like most large laptops, the Qosmio suffers from short battery life--just 2 minutes shy of 2 hours in our tests. The 1.8-GHz Pentium M 745-equipped unit scored a PC WorldBench 5 score of 82, bypassing a couple of similarly equipped competitors, an IBM T42 and a Compaq Presario V2000 by five and seven points, respectively.
The printed material that comes with the Qosmio is basic, but the Acrobat manual on the hard drive is excellent, offering detailed setup instructions, including how to integrate the laptop with an existing set-top cable box, a VCR, or a DVD player.
The Toshiba Qosmio G15-AV501 is a terrific Windows Media Center system and stand-alone DVD player, but at $2999 with no bundled applications, it is very pricey.
Toshiba Qosmio G15-AV501
WorldBench 5 score of 82, 1.8-GHz Pentium M 745, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Media Center Edition, 17-inch wide screen, 100GB hard drive, DVD