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Toshiba Qosmio G20 Media Center notebook

Cinema on the move?

Review Toshiba's Qosmio range is set up for entertainment and the G20 stands at its head. With a large widescreen display and running Microsoft's Windows Media Center 2005, Toshiba has pretty much thrown the kitchen sink at this thing in an effort to ensure that it can act as a full-on digital content hub.

However, it's not going to win any prizes for portability. This is a big heavy machine and weighs in at 4.3kg - and that's without the external power brick. Certainly you're not going to want to move it very often.

Toshiba Qosmio G20

As an entertainment machine it's important that the G20 looks good, and Toshiba has done well here. With the lid closed the silver finish and the Qosmio logo adorn the otherwise featureless expanse that is the cover. Surrounding the eye catching 16:10 ratio, 17in display is a brown brushed-metal bezel, while set around the keyboard is shiny plastic enhanced by blue lights in all the right places. The effect is somewhat spolit, however, by its tendency to pick up fingerprints, so you'll have to spent time on regular grooming. No surprise that a cleaning cloth is supplied.

Toshiba uses what it calls a TruBrite coating. This ensures that the screen is exceptionally bright with colours virtually leaping off the screen. In fact, I found that the maximum brightness setting made things look a tad washed out and I had turn it down a notch for optimum results. Set-up correctly though and viewing video and images on the Qosmio is a pleasure.

A major downside to the TruBrite coating is that it suffers from higher reflectivity that standard screens, which does bother some people. However, writing this review on the Qosmio under office lights was not a problem - I simply had to move the screen to lessen reflections. In my opinion, the benefits of the TruBrite coating outweigh the reflectivity problems, which you can get round by adjusting the angle slightly. You won't have too much scope for this, however, as vertical viewing angles weren't that impressive, with the screen washing out when the screen was tilted too far forward or back. There was some colour shift when viewing from the sides but nothing too drastic, so you can get three or four people sitting round it comfortably.

Another disappointment is the resolution: 1440 x 900 isn't as high as I would have liked for a screen this size. It's high enough for 720p HD content but not for 1080p. Ok, so 1080p content from a Blu-ray Disc drive is still some time away, but there are plenty of 1080p movie trailers available online already, and you won't be able to watch these at native resolution on this screen.

Toshiba Qosmio G20

Not that the G20 is powerful enough even if the screen were no limit. It's powered by a Pentium M 760 running at 2GHz, and 1GB of memory. This is beefy enough for 720p HD content, but not the 1080p QuickTime trailer for Serenity. It played the file, but dropped frames.

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