Toshiba's Qosimo showcases HD DVD format

Vendor joins Sanyo, NEC and others in pusing the format

It’s a notebook and quite a grunty one at that, based on an Intel dual-core T2600 processor, with 1GB of RAM and a 200GB disk and gigabit-speed ethernet connection. However, its computing capability is incidental; the Toshiba Qosimo G30 is marketed chiefly for its video and sound entertainment potential.

It is the first portable computer to feature the High Density DVD (HD DVD) format, which is promoted by a consortium headed by Toshiba, and which includes Sanyo, NEC and Memory Tech.

By including HD DVD storage, Toshiba aims to further the convergence of PC and entertainment centre technology, making it the “hub” of home digital information technology, says Mark Whittard, New Zealand general manager of Toshiba’s information systems division.

HD DVD in PCs is also one of Toshiba’s eight paths to take its hardware away from the commodity PC market — the “eight decommodisation vectors”, as the company calls them. Others include long battery life, high durability and all-weather operation, high-bandwidth communications and a high density of componentry on the motherboard.

HD DVD is the Toshiba consortium’s strike against the rival Blu-Ray high-capacity video format from Sony.

Whittard trumpets the alleged advantages of the HD DVD technology. Blu-Ray boasts a higher capacity, he acknowledges, but with few movies lasting longer than two hours (8–10GB on a disk), the 15GB capacity of the HD format “is plenty”.

“We’ll never have to go beyond 25GB,” he says, in one of those quotes that industry prophets often live to regret.

Unlike Blu-ray, he says, HD DVD disks can be produced on only minimally altered DVD production lines. The drive will naturally read and write normal DVDs and CDs too.

The Qosimo has a tuner for analogue or digital TV signals and an HDMI (high-density multimedia) port to link to external screens and projectors.

Today’s large plasma video screens need the high definition made possible by HD DVD, he says.

While the difference between HD DVD and standard DVD was noticeable on a metre-wide wall-projected image, the Qosimo G30 has a standard 17-inch screen. The machine will be available from Harvey Norman and Noel Leeming stores at a recommended retail price of $6,499.

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