Toybox: Big beauty burns HD DVD

Toshiba's Qosmio G40 has the impressive addition of an HD DVD-R optical drive, the writable disc variant of HD DVD

Toshiba’s Qosmio G40 is a real beauty in some ways, and a beast in others. The multimedia notebook weighs in at 5kg and is nearly half a metre wide and five centimetres thick.

Looking past the size of the G40, its design and black and white colours remind me of the much slimmer Portege R400 laptop. I like the clean look of the G40, but I find the vast, empty surface surrounding the keyboard a bit too big and plastic-like to touch. A big minus also for the fingerprint and grease-friendly finish of the lid. Unfortunately, we can assume that it scratches easily, as our review unit already has a fair number.

Continuing the form factor tour, there are two oversized jog dials on each side of the keyboard. This is a “clicky” volume control and a multimedia controller. Above the keyboard are some handy touch sensitive media buttons — play/pause, stop, next/previous controls and media player shortcuts. The G40 gets extra style points for the funky blue glow that backlights these buttons.

But now to the important part — like its predecessor, the Qosmio G30, the G40 comes with a HD DVD player. At the time, the G30 was the first notebook with a built-in HD DVD drive. Now, the G40 has the impressive addition of an HD DVD-R optical drive, the writable disc variant of HD DVD. Reportedly, burning time to single-layer 15GB writable discs is reasonable. TrustedReviews, for example, burnt 13GB in just under an hour.

Looking under the hood, the G40 has an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, a 400GB (200GB+200GB) hard disk and 2GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 4GB. The nVidia GeForce 8600M graphics card should appeal to gamers.

It is definitely comfortable to watch films on the 17-inch widescreen display, with 1,920 x 1,200 pixel resolution, but if you prefer to watch films on a TV screen, the G40 offers many connectivity options, such as HDMI, S-video and D-sub.

Among the many nice features are also the built-in television tuner for recording and watching TV programmes, the integrated 2 megapixel camera for video over IP and ego-snapshots, and the integrated microphone.

The two Harman/Kardon speakers embedded in the top corners give a decent sound for watching films and playing games.

On the connectivity side, the G40 shines. It has five USB ports; ExpressCard and PC Card slots; a FireWire port and a 5-in-1 memory card reader supporting SD, MemoryStick, MemoryStick Pro, MMC and xD formats, as well as inputs for headphones, MP3 players and cameras. It also has a wireless on/off switch.

Despite its “laptoppy” appearance, you won’t be carrying this one further than from your lounge to your home office. So, the G40 pretty much stays within a close radius of home base. However, if it is a desktop replacement you are looking for, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

As you might suspect, a machine of this calibre and with so many features will not come cheap. The Qosmio G40 costs $5999 including GST.

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