Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Toshiba Qosmio F750 (PQF75A-065024) notebook
The Qosmio F750 is a big notebook with a powerful configuration, but also a few shortcomings
- Lots of RAM
- 1TB hard drive
- Quad-core CPU
Toshiba's Qosmio F750 looks good and it has a mean set of specifications. It's an all-rounder that can be used for a bit of everything, including gaming, but it does have some drawbacks, such as a very glossy screen (with a basic resolution) and unimpressive Wi-Fi.
Price$ 2,364.00 (AUD)
The Toshiba Qosmio F750 offers a second generation Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU, 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 1TB hard drive and an NVIGIA GeForce GT 540M graphics adapter. It may be boring to start off a review by delving straight into the specifications, but for the Qosmio F750, it's important to establish that it's a notebook with plenty of power under the hood. It's not a light and very portable laptop; it's a big 3kg, 15.6in unit that's designed to be more of a desktop replacement than something you would carry with you on a daily basis; it's an all-rounder that can be used for a little bit of everything, including gaming.
Qosmio F750 design
The metallic finish, with its blue and purple hues, really does look good. It's a far cry from other Qosmio system's we've seen previously, such as the Qosmio X770, for example, which has more of a gaming focus. The F750's lid opens to expose a glossy chassis, a glossy screen, a glossy bezel and a glossy palm rest. Reflections from room lights can be very annoying when they hit this laptop, but especially the screen. You'll want to leave it at maximum brightness and adjust its angles as you change your viewing position in front of it. The palm rest has a pattern underneath its glossy finish and it features a relatively small (83x44mm) touchpad for such a big notebook.
The keyboard isn't backlit, which is a drawback if you happen to be used to working in the dark, but the board itself has keys that are soft and responsive. They are flat and very smoothly finished keys, which can sometimes feel slippery and lead to miscues, but overall it's a good board. It features a dedicated number pad and there is a utility installed that shows which functions the F-keys control when you press the Fn button. Above the keyboard, there are capacitive controls for the volume and Wi-Fi, and they make an annoying beeping sound when pressed.
We found the Synaptics touchpad to be a little unreliable in our tests. It's a small pad that feels a little rough and it has a light above it that shines annoyingly when the pad is enabled. The pad supports gestures such as two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicking, and these worked well for us. However, the pointer sometimes became erratic and bounced around the screen during general use. This was fixed by restarting the computer and it was a frustrating thing to experience. Because it's a desktop replacement unit, you'll want to use a mouse with it anyway.
Qosmio F750 features
Around the edges of the Qosmio F750, you'll find a usual set of features, perhaps with the exception of the full-sized TV antenna port, which isn't very common in the laptop fraternity. You get four USB ports, with two located on each side of the unit, but only one of these is USB 3.0. You also get a VGA port, HDMI, headphone and microphone ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an SD card slot and a Blu-ray/DVD burner drive. It's a decent configuration all up, but we wish there were at least two USB 3.0 ports instead of only one — especially because the machine is likely to be deskbound and used as a primary computer in some cases.
We found the wireless networking performance of the Qosmio F750 to be relatively slow thanks to its single-band Atheros AR9002WB-1NG 802.11n Wi-Fi module, which always reported a link speed lower than 90 megabits per second (Mbps) to our router (and sometimes as low as 60Mbps), despite boasting a strong signal strength. You could argue that Wi-Fi on a big unit such as this isn't that important, but good Wi-Fi would give you the freedom to plonk this machine anywhere in your home without having to worry about wires for reliable data transfers and we think it's an area that could be improved.
One area in which the Qosmio is better off than most laptops is speaker output. Its Harman Kardon stereo speakers are located above the keyboard and they don't have a sub-woofer or a fancy equaliser. They provide good loudness and clarity, perhaps enough to fill a decent-sized lounge room, depending on your environment. They lack power in bass department, which is to say if you want a "boom" you'll have to plug in external speakers. That said, their frequency range is above average compared to most of the laptops we've experienced and they make for enjoyable casual listening.
While listening might be enjoyable, viewing the screen can be a little less so. It has a native resolution of 1366x768, which is standard for most laptops on the market and not high enough for a notebook with the specifications of the F750. We'd like to see a higher resolution panel, but also one that has better vertical viewing angles, and which isn't as susceptible to reflections from room lights. Reflections really made it hard to view photos, videos and live TV unless we were in a dark room. Incidentally, the notebook has a hybrid TV tuner installed, which can tune in to both digital and analogue stations. Using Windows Media Centre, it found all of the digital stations in our area and played them without any difficulties. There is a built-in infrared receiver for a remote control, but our kit didn't come with one.
Qosmio F750 performance
There is no doubt the Qosmio F750 is powerful enough for most work loads. Its Core i7-2670QM CPU has four cores as well as Hyper-Threading, and it can process up to eight software threads simultaneously. It's perfect for multitasking, and with a regular frequency of 2.2GHz and a Turbo Boost of 3.1GHz, it has enough speed to make light of tough tasks. Of course, it helps that it also has 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 1TB hard drive with a high data density.
In our Blender 3D rendering test, the Qosmio put up a time of 22sec, which is very fast, while it recorded an expected time of 55sec in our iTunes MP3 encoding test. We couldn't run our usual AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid conversion test due to problems with the configuration. In CrystalDiskMark, the hard drive, which has a spin speed of only 5400rpm, recorded a sequential read rate of 104 megabytes per second (MBps) and a write rate of 101MBps. These are excellent results in this test considering the spin speed of the drive; the dense 500GB platters in the hard drive no doubt helped. In our own data copying tests, an average rate of 111MBps was achieved. The more data the drive is packed with though, the slower it will perform.
As far as gaming grunt is concerned, the F750 isn't powerful enough to entice serious gamers; its GeForce GT 540M provided rates between 20-30 frames per second in Battlefield 3 when it was run at the native 1366x768 resolution of the screen and with auto image detail levels; it recorded a score of 9284 in 3DMark06, which certainly isn't high enough for a true gaming laptop. It'll do well when running games at medium settings or lower and can be used for role playing games, racing games, and first-person shooters (if you're not the competitive type).
While the CPU and graphics are working hard, the fan in the machine will do its best to push all the warm air generated by these components through the vent and heat sink on the left side of the unit. It can get noisy during these times.
The Qosmio actually features switchable graphics, which means it can use integrated Intel graphics when it's running on battery, rather than the more powerful NVIDIA adapter. In our battery test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the notebook's 48 Watt-hour battery lasted 2hr 19min. Toshiba laptops aren't well known for having stellar battery life, but almost two and a half hours for a 15.6in model with a full allotment of RAM and a Core i7 CPU isn't terrible, and it's not like it's a laptop you'll want to use far away from a power outlet anyway.
What the Qosmio represents is a good all-round machine, rather than a product that's dedicated to gamers. It can be used for gaming in a pinch, but it can also be used to view and record TV shows, in addition to being a powerful computer for tasks such as media encoding, video and image editing and, of course, essential office applications. It looks good, albeit with too much glossiness, and its build quality isn't overly creaky. We just wish its screen was better, that the touchpad was more reliable and that the wireless adapter was of a higher calibre.
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