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Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z review

Verdict

The Quad Core HD is an out of place innovation, but the rest of this Qosmio impresses

Review Date: 24 Sep 2008

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £766 (£881 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

Qosmio laptops have always represented the gregarious, outgoing end of Toshiba's extensive range of notebooks, and the F50-10Z is no exception. The Qosmio logo is liberally splashed across the rear of the lid, and the keyboard is surrounded by white LED icons and a chrome border.

Despite this extroverted exterior, the most interesting of the Qosmio's features lie beneath the chassis - it's fully Centrino 2-equipped, and is also the first we've seen with Toshiba's proprietary Quad Core HD chip. This chip promises to 'upconvert' standard-definition DVDs to improve quality and, intriguingly, allow for gesture control - so a few simple hand movements could navigate the Qosmio's desktop from across a room.

In use, however, the gesture control and DVD upscaling proved to be more like gimmicks than genuinely useful features. While colours and detail were slightly improved when high-quality DVDs were viewed from further away, in some of our tests the picture actually got worse when upconverted and sat close to the screen, with pixellation rife around sharpened edges. The Quad Core HD also doesn't work when the Qosmio is running on battery power.

Gesture recognition didn't fare too well, either. Three basic gestures are offered - a closed fist controls the cursor, a thumbs-up simulates clicking, and an open palm pauses video. However, after an embarrassing period of arm-waving in the office, it was clear the webcam didn't consistently recognise our gestures or translate them into actions - and why you'd rather do this than just press a button on a remote is beyond us.

If you ignore these temperamental gimmicks, the screen is a solid panel full of punchy, well-reproduced colour and solid, sharp detail - our sample of Casino Royale looked suitably gritty, and the jungles of Crysis appeared lush and full of life. The native resolution of 1,280 x 800 may be a concern if you like a larger screen to use with multiple web pages and documents, but it's just about enough for upscaled 720p video and it's fine for everyday use.

Beneath the screen is a typically excellent Toshiba keyboard. While it's not as clinically clicky as Dell's XPS M1730, the keys still offer plenty of travel and are light on the fingers, making for comfortable typing sessions. The trackpad and mouse buttons offer similar comfort, and are just as easy to use.

Aside from the flashy touches, the chassis is sturdy and feature-packed. Volume can be controlled by a circular, silver dial that sits below the keyboard, there's a physical WLAN switch, and an HDMI port - slightly redundant without an accompanying Blu-ray drive - sits alongside a pair of audio jacks and a USB socket on the Qosmio's right-hand side.

The left-hand side has a pair of headphone and microphone jacks, another USB port, mini-FireWire and a card reader towards the rear - good for SD, mS and XD memory - that is, predictably, surrounded by more chrome. The back of the machine houses more: a standard VGA output, Gigabit Ethernet, another USB socket and eSATA, which can augment the 320GB of storage already included.

There's plenty of solid hardware to back up the well-featured chassis. An Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 runs at 2.26GHz and, coupled with 4GB of RAM, provided a solid benchmark score of 1.1 - not far behind the likes of the M1730 and HP Pavilion HDX9320, which both included slightly more powerful 2.5GHz parts.

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