So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Toshiba Qosmio F30
- Powerful, All around strong performance, Great sound, Great Screen, High definition Digital Tuner
- Limited battery life, Lid construction could be better
If you need a media and gaming notebook with a lot of power, and battery life isn't your primary concern, the Qosmio F30 is a great choice.
Price$ 3,699.00 (AUD)
With a powerful Nvidia 7600 GO graphics card, a 2GHz processor and Harmon Kardon speakers, Toshiba's Qosmio F30 is a powerful all round performer. Suitable for mobile gaming, media centre duties or general desktop tasks the F30 is an affordable, multi-purpose device that can fulfil a variety of needs. Its only real flaw is limited battery life.
Running a 2GHz T2500 Intel Core Duo processor and 1GB of RAM (upgradeable to 2GB) the F30 certainly has plenty of power, as was highlighted by its score of 99 in World Bench 5. This result is consistent with other machines with similar specifications, and indicates that this unit is suited to everything from day-to-day office tasks to media editing and encoding, although if you truly wish to pursue the latter we'd suggest you upgrade your system memory to 2GB.
The 128MB 7600 GO graphics card ensures this machine also excels at gaming, and its scores of 19968 and 2151 in 3DMark01 and 3DMark06 respectively corroborate this. The F30 is fast enough to handle most modern games with ease, and while there was some minor stuttering in our F.E.A.R testing, for the most part it was quite playable and this was a strong performance while running such a demanding game.
The Harmon Kardon speakers also helped cement this machine's gaming potential. While many people will use headphones when playing audio through a notebook, it is nice to know the option for good quality speaker sound is there should you need it. The system provides amazing volume for such a compact setup, with powerful bass and a vibrant mid range. It certainly isn't audiophile quality sound, but it is comparable to low and mid-range stand-alone speaker systems and is some of the best audio we've heard from a notebook.
These speakers also highlight one of the F30's other strengths; its media playback capabilities. Combined with a 15.4in1280x800 widescreen display, DVI and D-Sub outputs and a 100GB hard drive, this makes for a great media centre workstation. It also ships with Windows Media Centre Edition as standard, giving you all the flexibility of a desktop media PC in a portable package. Toshiba include a high definition digital television tuner pre-installed to give the highest possible quality television feeds.
The screen is excellent, with good horizontal viewing angle, no backlight bleeding and minimal ghosting. We found it to be crisp and colourful, with no visible aberrations or contrast issues. Meanwhile the 100GB hard disk provides enough capacity to store a large quantity of media. Should you need more, the machine can be upgraded with a second 100GB drive for 200GB total. Toshiba has also included many the standard media keys along the top, including play/pause, stop, record and track skip as well as a handy and quite stylish volume knob on the right hand side.
Another cool media feature is the included DVD writer, which can write all the major formats including the rather rare DVD-RAM. Supporting all of this are the standard connectivity options, including four USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, Bluetooth, 100MB Ethernet and 802.11 a/b/g wireless.
The one area that was a bit of a disappointment in our media testing was with regards to battery life. The F30 managed to last just 79 minutes in our MobileMark DVD run down test, indicating it won't have enough power to play a standard DVD in its entirety when running on batteries alone. This is a disappointment, as a unit such as this is perfectly suited to watching movies on public transport or other on the move situations.
Toshiba has stuck with their standard Qosmio design on the F30 and it looks quite good but not spectacular. A dull silver exterior opens to reveal a matte black bezel and keyboard, which is quite easy to type on thanks to the shallow key mounting and extra space below where your wrists can rest. Thanks to the large15.4in screen it is quite a bulky notebook, measuring 37.9cm x 29cm x 4.6cm and weighing 4kg. We found the plastic interior to be reasonably solid, but the lid and outer area flexed very easily under pressure, and didn't leave us filled with confidence.
The F30 comes pre-packaged with a variety of software, including Microsoft Office Onenote, WinDVD Creator 2, WinDVD and Norton Internet Security. It is also Vista ready, and as it has 1GB of RAM as standard you should have no trouble updating when the time comes.
Overall this is an excellent media workstation. The low battery life is disappointing, but if you want a portable machine that can act as a media centre at home and an office or gaming PC on the road, the Qosmio F30 is a good choice.
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