Huge entertainment machine bets big on HD DVD

Toshiba's Qosmio G30 has an abundance of features

Toshiba's Qosmio G30 is huge. Forget fitting this one into a bag or carrying it around for more than minutes at a time. It weighs 4.8kg and measures 406mm by 290mm by 44 mm.

This hefty entertainment laptop is meant to be a desktop replacement, and it is marketed as a “four-in-one entertainment unit”, which refers to its main functions — television, stereo audio player, DVD player and PC.

The G30 has an abundance of features and I can only get through a few of them here.

Let’s start with one of its coolest features, which is, without doubt, the HD DVD player. Obviously, Toshiba is betting its money on the HD DVD camp in the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray to be the next-generation DVD format.

Toshiba provided me with two HD DVD films (The Holiday and Children of Men). And the definition was amazing. Looking around the screen at all the details I suddenly realised how clear the picture was. I must admit that HD DVD really is different. We’ll just have to wait and see if it will take over the world or if this format will be gone in a couple of years.

The only thing that marred my HD DVD experience was that one of the films kept freezing at one point, and when I tried to skip that particular part the whole application kept dying, forcing me to start up the HD DVD player from scratch. This meant I had to sit through approximately three minutes times five of introductions and legal notices — you can’t skip these. Very annoying.

The drive can read and burn DVDs and CDs, but, unfortunately it won’t burn any HD DVD discs.

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 G30 offers many connectivity options, such as HDMI, S-video and D-sub.

The notebook also has an integrated digital/analogue TV tuner, for watching and recording TV.

Another nice feature is the 320GB hard-disk drive, which is made up of two hard drives.

The G30 runs on an Intel 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo processor and has 2GB RAM. It’s equipped with Vista Home Premium, Windows Media Centre and a remote control. It’s got four USB ports and supports all the major wireless standards.

The keyboard, with its slightly larger and quite responsive keys, is a pleasure to type on. It is surrounded by a cool, brushed metal chassis — non-fingerprint friendly. Two Harman/Kardon speakers are embedded in the top corners, and the sound is great for watching films and playing games.

Across the top edge of the keyboard is a row of buttons for controlling the DVD player, which is quite handy.

On the right-hand side of the keyboard is a little dial for volume control, but you have to spin the wheel around many times before anything happens. I didn’t think it worked at first.

The machine handles gaming applications easily, thanks to the GeForce Go 7600 graphics card. One drawback is the battery life — which lasts for two hours maximum.

So, yes the G30 is heavy, but it is quite easily carried between the bed and the sofa, or where ever you like to use your computer, play games or watch films.

But as expected, a high-end entertainment machine of this kind cost a bit — it will set you back $6,199 including GST.

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