Toshiba Qosmio G20 Media Center notebook
Cinema on the move?
For graphics, the G20 has Nvidia GeForce Go 6600. This makes it something of a lukewarm proposition for gamers. If it were truly to be a one-stop entertainment machine then a GeForce Go 7800 would not have been out of place, though obviously the machine would have been a lot more expensive. The chip does at least support PureVideo, which should improve MPEG 2 playback and quality but the codec wasn't pre-installed on the machine so it will be an extra cost.
This machine is higher specced than many of the G20s available online, with two 80GB hard disk drives. By default this is set up as two partitions, a C and a D drive. However, these disks can be converted into a mirrored RAID, by the click of a couple of buttons, thanks to a Toshiba software utility. This is a great option to have and makes a lot of sense. This machine is likely to be used for both work and entertainment and having the reliability of RAID 1 in a notebook will bring peace of mind. Admittedly it means that your storage capacity is chopped in half but you can always add more space for non-crucial content using an external drive.
The optical drive is a rather cool looking slot loading DVD-RAM drive, giving you more options for removable storage including dual-layer discs. Sonic RecordNow! is the supplied burning software.
For connectivity the G20 features two USB ports on the left side and a further two at the rear. Also on the left side are headphone and microphone sockets, and a switch for activating the built in 802.11g wireless adaptor. Towards the back there's a modem port for when there's no broadband connection and you're desperate to get online. On the right-hand side is a slot for both a PC Card and the newer Express card format, and above that a memory card reader for SD, XD and Memory Stick. There's also a small four-pin FireWire connector.
At the rear of the machine, along with the two USB ports already mentioned is a network connector and a VGA output. Next to this is a proprietary digital port, and a cable is supplied that ends in a SCART adaptor. I was initially quite pleased by this as it meant that I could connect the system up to my 36in CRT TV. However, when I did so I was disappointed to find that the image quality was quite simply terrible. It was clearly a composite only output but even so, it was poor.
Being a Media Center machine, the G20 has an integrated TV Tuner. The one included was analogue only but I was informed that models released in a month or so will have a digital tuner so it's probably worth waiting for them.