By Cisco Cheng  |  Posted 2006-06-22 Print this article Print

Toshiba takes high-definition TV to the next level with its Qosmio G35-AV650 ($2,999.99 direct) notebook. Now the most complete Media Center laptop on the market, this latest Qosmio features the companys much anticipated HD DVD drive. The drive represents a significant upgrade to the Qosmio G35-AV600 notebook ($2,399.99), which garnered numerous Editors Choice awards. But despite the new additions, the system needs some fine tuning.

The Qosmio just keeps getting heavier. This iteration weighs 10.2 pounds, up from the AV600s 9.9 pounds, so it will likely be basically confined to desk duty or maybe sitting in an A/V rack. Aside from the HD DVD drive, the AV650 is largely a replica of the AV600, and its 17-inch TruBrite screen is still intensely bright. And Toshiba has cranked the resolution up to 1,920-by-1,200 to accommodate HD DVD resolutions.

I had the chance to look at the AV600 and AV650 models side by side. Luckily, I also had copies of Universal Pictures horror flick Van Helsing in both HD DVD and standard-definition DVD formats. While playing both discs, I could easily single out the HD DVD version. The first chapter of Van Helsing was actually shot in black and white, making it possible to notice fine image detail in grayscale. The movie also has plenty of dark imagery thats useful for determining how well the system displays black objects. Several action sequences appeared sharper in HD. The color levels were also very good and didnt appear washed out. Even so, the visual differences between the two formats arent very compelling on a 17-inch notebook screen. You need a larger display for HD really to shine.

The AV650 has a built-in HDMI-out port, replacing the older component variety. It wouldve been nice to have DVI as well. I connected the AV650 to the big, Editors Choice-winning Proview RX-326 32-inch display via the HDMI port. Youll have to purchase the HDMI cable separately. (The Sony VAIO VGN-AR190G, which is equipped with competing Blu-ray drive technology and currently being tested in our labs, ships with an HDMI cable and an HDMI-to-DVI converter.) Other A/V ports include Composite-in and S-Video (in and out).

Unfortunately, the WinDVD HD software bundled with the AV650 couldve been a lot better. I couldnt select the "Scenes" menu for Van Helsing, and my Doom 3 HD DVD wouldnt play at all. Furthermore, there was a sizable delay when I loaded the HD DVD, and certain scenes experienced slight stuttering. Intervideo is currently working on several patches to fix these problems, and they should be available for download as more HD DVD titles are released.

Read the full story on PCMag.com: Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650

Cisco Cheng is PC MagazineÔÇÖs lead analyst for laptops and tablet PCs. He is responsible for benchmarking, reviewing, and evaluating all laptops and tablet PCs. Cisco started with PC Magazine in 1999 as a support technician, testing printers, PC components, networking equipment, and software. He became the lead analyst for the laptop team in 2003 and since has written numerous reviews, buyer guides, and feature stories for both PCMag.com and the print magazine.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel