capsule review

Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV660

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV660 Notebook

    PCWorld Rating

    The Qosmio can't be beat for the ultimate notebook multimedia experience. It's big and heavy, but includes tons of extras.

The best all-in-one entertainment laptop just got better. The Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV660 is only a minor tweak of the G35-AV650, a 17-inch-screen desktop replacement with cutting-edge multimedia features. But now you can work and play a little faster with the AV660's 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 processor and 2GB of RAM. Storage has been bumped up as well, to two 120GB RAID-configurable hard drives.

The AV660 is a large black notebook with a beveled case that builds in many entertainment features that other notebooks either lack altogether or must add on. The unit, which weighs a heavy 10.3 pounds, is a great choice for home offices or dorm rooms, where a PC has to double as a portable entertainment center. The AV660 even offers good battery life for a big desktop replacement--3 hours on one charge.

The G35-AV660 earned a WorldBench score of 109. Another similarly configured notebook we looked at earned a score of 117. But both are among the fastest notebooks we've ever tested. Equipped with a 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7600, the two notebooks also did well in our graphics tests, notching 97 frames per second in Doom 3 and 120 fps in Far Cry.

However, the G35 series steamrolls the competition in the overall entertainment package department. In addition to an HD DVD drive and an HDMI port for watching movies on an HDTV, it's the only Windows XP Media Center Edition notebook with premium Harman/Kardon speakers and 1-bit digital analog-to-digital conversion. You haven't heard good notebook sound until you've experienced a Qosmio. Hi-fi buffs will love the fat volume dial on the side that twists like an old-fashioned stereo knob.

The Qosmio is also the only laptop with full instant-on entertainment including TV, and it's only the second notebook I've seen with an integrated remote-control receiver--a nice design that eliminates having to keep track of the extra USB box that all other TV tuner-equipped notebooks require.

In fact, everything about the AV660 is well designed. The sturdy screen moves smoothly on its hinges. The keyboard, though lacking a dedicated numeric keypad like many desktop replacements, is big and comfortable. The keys have especially large, flat tops. The touchpad is dual mode; it can also launch applications or adjust volume with the tap of a finger. The numerous ports are laid out conveniently and let you attach almost every conceivable type of multimedia equipment so that you can use the notebook's screen to view camcorder or VCR video, or so you can attach a bigger screen to the AV660.

The notebook comes with two headphone ports, including an S/PDIF jack for connecting digital speakers or enjoying Dolby virtual surround sound with headphones. Most mainstream connections and features are covered as well, including an ExpressCard slot, a fingerprint reader, a three-in-one card reader, four USB ports, a FireWire port, and both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.

About the only complaint I can lodge against the design is that upgrading to an HD DVD-ROM/DVD burner meant losing the Qosmio's cool slot-fed optical drive design.

At $3500 (as of 11/6/06) the G35-AV660 is far from cheap. But for the ultimate notebook multimedia experience, it can't be beat. If hi-fi sound and TV viewing are your goals, this Qosmio laptop is the best game in town.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Qosmio can't be beat for the ultimate notebook multimedia experience. It's big and heavy, but includes tons of extras.

    Pros

    • Beautiful screen
    • RAID-configurable hard drives

    Cons

    • Heavy and expensive
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