Toshiba Qosmio G30

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Toshiba Qosmio G30
  • Toshiba Qosmio G30
  • Toshiba Qosmio G30
  • Toshiba Qosmio G30

Pros

  • HD-DVD compatible, Big screen, HDMI output, Strong performance

Cons

  • Expensive, Large, Not much HD content currently available

Bottom Line

First in Australia with HD-DVD, the Qosmio G30 is a no compromise notebook from Toshiba.

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The Toshiba Qosmio G30 is a no compromise notebook for the early adopters, those who want a high definition notebook and want it now. What you get in the G30 is a sizeable piece of laptop hardware with great performance, serious specs, and functional style. Of course, you also get a price tag to match, but as the first notebook in Australia with HD-DVD, this machine was never going to be about the price.

Toshiba is the creator of HD-DVD, one of two high definition media formats vying for a place in your lounge room, so it is no surprise that their Qosmio G30 is the first notebook on the market with this technology.

Everything about this convergence leader has been tailored with a multimedia focus in mind, from the design right down to the ports. We were particularly impressed with the screen, which measures a whopping 17 inches; tied for the largest display we have seen on a notebook. It was brilliantly sharp, showed no signs of ghosting, handled the high definition signals exceptionally well and colour reproduction was easily above average.

It was however an exceptionally thick screen by LCD standards, which parallels the rest of the design. Giant screens and high-end components rarely come in small sizes and the 4.6 kilogram weight along with 40 centimetre width attest to this. This is not a super-portable notebook designed for comfortable use in cramped conditions.

The colour scheme is fairly plain, a combination of brushed silver and metallic black. This, along with the rather chunky design, makes for a model that looks ok, more understated functional than flashy. We would have liked a little more attention paid to the aesthetics; if we owned the first HD-DVD notebook we'd like people to know that it was something special, but the design is attractive and more than does the job.

It performed well in our testing, both in gaming and real world situations. WorldBench 5 gave it a score of 100, which places it in the top quarter of notebooks we've looked at. Its scores of 21399 and 2089 in 3DMark01 and 3DMark06 also indicate that it is a strong performer. These scores point towards the G30 being a great all round model. It can handle most modern games (although some very high-end games will struggle at the native resolution), and has enough power to perform media tasks such an audio encoding or video editing without a problem.

This comes as no surprise, considering the G30 sports an Intel Core Duo T2600 processor operating at 2.16GHz, which is one of the best mobile CPUs currently on the market. The Nvidia Geforce GO 7600 with 256MB of RAM ensures all your gaming needs are met. The unit comes with an adequate 1GB of RAM. It sports two 100GB SATA drives operating at 5400RPM - a decent amount of disk for a notebook. We're glad Toshiba went to some extra effort in this regard because it really cements the G30's usefulness as a media centre.

This model also comes equipped with a high definition TV tuner and a Windows Media Centre Edition was preinstalled, giving it most of the functionality of a full desktop media PC. Of course what will really sell this product is the HD-DVD drive, and after having used it a little we can safely say we understand why. The high definition era cannot come soon enough for us now. Watching a DVD copy of Serenity, and then switching to the HD-DVD version, we quickly relegated the DVD to the archives with all of our VHS. We tested the drive both on the notebook's LCD and a large, high definition television, and the result was nothing short of amazing. Crystal clear edges, no aliasing even in areas of movement and detailed backgrounds like we'd never seen before. We could praise high definition content all day, but suffice to say it will blow your mind.

Buyers of course should take note; there is very little high definition content out there right now. Support is ramping up rapidly, with over 250 titles scheduled to be released by the end of the year, but that is quite a long way off and we question if even 250 is enough to warrant a purchase like this. In nine months or a year when HD-DVDs are more prevalent, then such a notebook would be a great purchase, but by then there will be a host of products sporting compatible drives, some of which will be better and most of which will be cheaper.

Still, it is difficult to get over the cool factor of owning the first high definition notebook on the market. Toshiba has really made sure this is a multi-purpose device, packing it with not only a D-Sub connection but HDMI as well. Those with a high definition flat panel television will be blown away by the quality and simplicity of this connection. A single cable and your notebook is now a fully functional media centre.

However even without a TV the unit performs well, thanks to its built in speakers. Harmon Kardon has stepped up to the plate and provided the audio for this model and they've done a very nice job. It isn't in any way going to replace a decent home theatre setup, and we'd highly recommend you use a pair of headphones with this model, but these are still some of the best onboard speakers we've heard on a notebook. There was a lot of clarity in detailed patches of audio and they managed to not sound tinny like many of their counterparts.

HDMI aside, the G30 has a fairly standard array of ports including Ethernet, Firewire, four USB 2.0 ports and a 5-in-1 card reader. It has a built in IR receiver for the Media Centre remote as well as native Bluetooth support.

We found the keyboard to be reasonably comfortable, but nothing special. The extra space means your palms rest on the base of the notebook, which is a nice touch. Strung along the top are a variety of media controls, as well as shortcuts to the TV tuner and various ports. There is a small, metallic volume knob on the right hand side of the keyboard which is handy and adds a little sophistication to the package.

The G30 performed very well in our battery and heat tests. MobileMark awarded it a massive score of 195 minutes in its battery test, which is way above most other models. Our real world testing playing HD content was more modest at an hour and ten minutes. Despite having some fairly powerful components, we didn't find this model output too much heat. It was at a fairly comfortable level and the sides are well ventilated which helped keep things cool.

Overall, this is a very competent notebook. It performs well above average, has a huge screen and most importantly, has a HD-DVD drive. If there was more HD content out there we would have no hesitations in giving this a higher score. As it stands it is still an extremely desirable product and for those of you who are like us and want the newest, coolest thing around, this is a wonderful choice.

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