Toshiba’s Qosmio Multimedia Notebooks: Bright and Beautiful
Don’t Expect Much Battery Life!
by Alan Zisman (c) 2005 First
published in Performance
At a time when IBM has sold its well-known Thinkpad notebook line to
the China's Lenovo, Toshiba has chosen to debut a new high-end line of
notebooks. With its Satellite, Portege, and Tecra lines already among
Canada's best-selling consumer notebooks, the company is aiming its new
Qosmio (pronounced Cosmio) models at users wanting a full range of
audio-visual functions in a (more or less) portable computer.
there are two Qosmio models available. The F10-GP1 is built around a
15.4” widescreen LCD panel, and comes standard with 512MB
and an 80 GB hard drive, with prices starting at $3000. Starting at
$3600, the G10-GP2 ups the ante with a 17” display, 1GB of
and a 100 GB hard drive (actually two hard drives—a 60GB and
40GB unit). Both models include an 8x DVD burner, an array of audio and
video inputs and outputs, an Intel Pentium-M 745 (Centrino) processor
(running at 1.8 GHz, though Intel is downplaying clock speeds in these
CPUs), an NVidia GeForce Go 5700 graphics processor (with 128MB of
video memory), and Windows XP Media Centre 2005. A remote control is
included for use with the Media Centre software.
This unit also comes with 802.11g wireless networking built-in, and
Harmon Kardon stereo speakers, providing better sound than is typical
on notebook systems. One Firewire port (which Toshiba, like Sony refers
to as iLink) and four USB 2.0 ports allow for connection of high-speed
devices. A nice touch—the USB ports are distributed on both
and the back of the case, making one always handy.
There's no built-in floppy drive, only the option of an external USB
unit, but there is a three-in-one flash memory card drive supporting
Memory Stick, xD, and MMC/Secure Digital formats. Memory can be
upgraded to a maximum of 2GB, and a second hard drive can be installed
The stand-out feature of both of the Qosmios is the video display.
Toshiba boasts of its TruBrite hardware technology along with
QosmioEngine software, claiming the combination produces plasma TV
quality pictures. Certainly, the display is noticeably brighter and
clearer than typical notebook displays, and is viewable from a wider
viewing DVDs, picture quality is stunning, certainly the best I've seen
on a portable computer. A TV tuner is built-in, making it possible to
connect (via a too easily-lost adapter) to a standard TV cable
connection, VCR, or other device. TV picture quality is not as crisp as
DVD playback quality, though that's not Toshiba's fault. With a TV
connection and the bundled software, you can watch live TV or use the
Qosmio as a personal video recorder (PVR), scheduling recordings for
storage on the hard drive or for burning to DVD.
Another nice feature (also found on HP's Pavillion dv1000 and the
Averatec 6200)—you can watch TV or play a DVD movie or audio
without having to first boot to Windows, though you lose some of the
abilities to set display quality that are available from the
With its full set of multimedia inputs and outputs, you can connect the
Qosmio to display the output of a camcorder or game system, or to send
your computer image to a TV. Dedicated keyboard buttons make fast work
of these and other multimedia connections.
The downsides? These are heavy units; designed as desktop replacements,
you won't want to haul them around when you don't have to. The top of
the line 17” model weighs in at 4.4 kg (9.7 lbs) while the
15” model is only a bit lighter at 3.9 kg (8.6 lbs). And
you might want to use the stunning screen to watch movies on a
cross-Canada flight, you'll find the screen reduces brightness when
running on battery power, but still only gets a couple of hours of life
on a full charge. Toshiba advertises a paltry 1-1.6hours of battery
life for the 17” model and slightly more for the
(Tip: if you're not using the integrated wireless networking, flip the
handy switch to turn it off to help save on battery life; just remember
to turn it back on when you do want a wireless connection).
And don't look to Toshiba to provide a lot of bundled software. You'll
get the standard Windows Media Player package, and some nice Toshiba
utilities to simplify WiFi setup, power management, and other Control
Panel options. Norton AntiVirus is pre-installed (with a 90-day
subscription), as is Microsoft's nice (and not well-known) OneNote
note-taking software. But don't expect to type a letter without
installing additional software, unless you're a fan of Windows WordPad.
There are other multimedia notebooks available, (including HP's
Pavillion dv1000, the Acer Aspire 2020, and Sony's VAIO VGN-A-190, with
doubtless other models coming from the competition) but if you've got
the cash, Qosmio's superb screen, TV tuner and PVR functions, and
wealth of input and output connections make this the one to get.