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Toshiba touts Qosmio notebook as media centre

Laptops for living rooms

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Toshiba today launched its assault on consumer's living rooms with a notebook family it hopes will wrest the emerging digital convergence market away from Media Center desktops.

Jointly announced in Japan, the Far East, Europe and the US, the Qosmio provides what Toshiba calls the "four-in-one" entertainment experience: it's a TV, a PC, a DVD recorder and a music player.

Based on Intel's Centrino platform, with Pentium M 725, 735, 745 and 755 options, the Qosmio E10 family provides 802.11b and g wireless networking support. Toshiba is offering up to 512MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, though the machines support up to 2GB of it, and a choice of 60GB or 80GB hard drive. The E10 runs Windows XP Home Edition.

Toshiba Qosmio E10 The notebook's 15in, 1024 x 768 display uses UltraBrightScreen technology for a crisper image with more vivid colours than is usually the case. Think Sony's x-brite/x-black screens used in that company's Vaio notebooks. The Toshiba display is powered by a Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200 chip with 64MB of dedicated video memory.

On the audio front, Qosmio contains Harmon Kardon speakers with SRS WOW and TruSurround XT technology for a surround sound-style experience.

Each machine ships with a DVD writer capable of working with all three writeable specs - DVD-RAM, DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW - and is ready to record TV programmes via the built-in analog TV tuner. There's are TV and component video output ports for connecting the notebooks to a variety of screens and devices, and a digital audio S/P-DIF port to allow you to link it up to a hi-fi.

Crucially, the E10's audio and video facilities are accessible with the computer shut down, so there's no need to boot up the OS.

The Qosmios also ship with the usual PC-oriented USB 2.0, 56Kbps modem, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, Firewire, PC Card and SD/MMC slots and ports. They also contain a range of media playback, authoring and burning utilities. Each machine weighs up to 3.5kg and measures 33.8 x 28.5 x 4.3cm.

The Qosmio E10 series will ship in the UK, France and Germany later this month. Toshiba did not provide European pricing, but the Japanese version, also launched to today, is expected to retail for around ¥220,000 (£1088/€1634), but it's worth bearing in mind that the Japanese models use slower processors, from low-end Pentium Ms down to Celeron Ms.

In the US, the range will be labelled the Qosmio E15-AV101, and feature integrated Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. The E15-AV101 is priced at $2699 and ships with Windows XP Media Center Edition and an 80GB HDD only.

Toshiba will soon have some stiff competition. Acer, Asus and Elitegroup are already preparing living room notebooks which, like Qosmio, provide audio and video playback - and, in the case of the Asus W1N, TV viewing - without the need to boot the computer. ®

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