Toshiba Qosmio G40 (PQG40A-00Y014)
- HD-DVD-R drive, high-resolution screen, Four speakers and subwoofer, 2 megapixel camera, Two hard drives
- HD-DVD-R drive speeds have not improved, No HD-DVD-RW drive this time around
We're disappointed that no HD-DVD-RW was included, but if there's no media what's the point? The new look is nice and the other enhancements make this notebook a better choice than its predecessors. We'd certainly recommend this model over the previous G30's, even though its performance hasn't really improved.
Price$ 4,999.00 (AUD)
The next model in Toshiba's Qosmio line up of home entertainment oriented notebooks has arrived. Two big things were planned for the G40 before its release; it was to be built on Intel's latest Centrino platform and it was to include and HD-DVD-RW drive; a step up from the most recent Qosmio G30's HD-DVD-R drive. However, while the G40 can boast a new Centrino platform, Toshiba has decided to hold back on the HD-DVD-RW drive due to a lack of HD-DVD-RW media in Australia.
An Intel T7500 2.20GHz CPU with an 800MHz front side bus is at the heart of the G40 and it is coupled with 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM. One of NVIDIA's new 8600M GT graphics cards installed, supporting DirectX 10 and with 512MB of video RAM at its disposal.
The G40 is definitely an evolutionary step up, rather than revolutionary, with many of the changes angled towards HD-DVD playback. As well as a cosmetic overhaul the G40 now has a four speaker system, including two medium speakers above the keyboard and two tweeters mounted into the bezel around the screen. There's also a subwoofer, and medium level bass sounds great, but begins to wain at higher volumes. Meanwhile the crisp 17in screen offering a resolution of 1920 x 1200 looks wonderful and has an excellent viewing angle. The two lamps provide great contrast and brightness. Watching The Matrix in full 1080p HD was a pleasure on this machine.
HD-DVD recordable discs start from 15GB in their most basic form, but increase in size with dual layer or double sided discs. We were able to burn 13.9GB of data to a blank Verbatim 15GB (1x recordable) disc in 58 minutes. This time is on par with the previous models.
A dual digital TV-tuner has been installed, which allows you to view both normal and HD/digital channels. The single card allows one channel to be watched, while recording another at the same time, or recording two channels simultaneously. Two 200GB hard drives provide plenty of recording space and could be set up in a Raid array for extra speed or data security, though our review model had neither in place. It also sports a 2 megapixel camera (built into the screen) for video chat; a step up from the 1.3 megapixel cameras found on most other notebooks.
Throughout our benchmarks we saw no marked improvement in the performance of the G40 over similarly built G30 models, though it performs well, nonetheless. This was a little surprising as we've seen excellent results from other notebooks using the new Intel platform. In WorldBench 6 it scored a total of 79. In our MP3 encoding test it was able to convert 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files in 77 seconds with iTunes and 119 seconds using CDex. iTunes is faster than Cdex as it uses both cores of the CPU while Cdex can only utilise one.
In gaming tests it survived but should not be considered an enthusiast's gaming machine. Using 3DMark 2006 at the default settings it scored 2850. In 3DMark 2001 SE it nailed a score of 21654 showing it's capable of running newer games but will handle older games with ease. In FEAR, using the maximum quality settings at a resolution of 1024 x 768 it achieved only 24 frames per second, which is playable but only just. At lower settings it should run faster.
The new look of the Qosmio G40 is more vibrant than its predecessor; the keyboard and the surrounding area of the chassis is white, while the rest is a glossy piano black. Between the screen and the glowing LED buttons the G40 lights up like a Mack truck at night, though they can be turned off at the press of a button.
It's still a fairly large notebook, weighing a solid 5.5kg with its power supply - which gives it more of a desktop-replacement feeling. It also clearly has home entertainment as a key design consideration. With the lid open it looks and feels very much like a computer, however with the lid closed, it takes on a more set-top-box aesthetic than other notebooks. This is primarily because the optical drive is front loading, which makes it more accessible when placed in a cupboard with your other AV equipment.
Unlike the previous models the volume control cannot be accessed with the lid closed, but Toshiba supplies a full-sized Media Center remote control with the unit. Also supplied is an IR extender, which can be placed in line-of-site of your remote, even if the bulk of the unit is hidden behind a cupboard door or other obstruction.
A 3.5mm AV to RCA AV cable adapter also ships in the sales package, allowing you to connect the G40 to a sound system receiver or TV. However, if you want to get the best audio and video quality from this multimedia beast an HDMI output is available on the back edge and an S-Video port is also on offer. Naturally a VGA port is available for connecting to a computer monitor. Overall we found it quite conveniently designed to act as both a computer and an entertainment unit.
When the lid is open the volume can be controlled via a large silver dial on the left of the keyboard. Another silver control pad on the right of the keyboard is the AV controller. Above the keyboard are a set of media controls including skip track, stop, play/pause and record. There's also a number of shortcuts for TV, Media Center, brightness video-out and one to the Dolby virtual surround sound settings, a feature that enhances the sound for virtual 5.1 audio.
Aside from the media ports the G40 also has five USB 2.0 ports, one mini FireWire port, a PC Card and an Express Card slot and an S-Video input. A fingerprint scanner is located between the mouse buttons and the power button is just above the volume control.
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