We're confused as to exactly which breed of user the Qosmio G20 is aimed at. Its highly reflective screen suggests a dedicated gaming platform designed to be used in a pitch-black environment, yet its graphics credentials won't meet the demands of a recent title like Battlefield 2, even when set to medium resolution.
Few screens we've tested have the same level of reflectivity as the Qosmio G20. If you're looking for a general use laptop, the G20 is far from ideal -- you'll see much more of yourself reflected back at you than you'll see of the document you're working on. Given the G20's uninspiring gaming performance, the only time this kind of screen will improve your view is when you're watching a DVD in a dark room. Even then, the improvement is marginal and hardly justifies crippling the display for other tasks.
Based on an Intel Pentium M processor, the Qosmio G20 is less of a power guzzler than a Pentium 4 laptop, but this has done little to reduce the bulk. The Qosmio G20 is in the same heavyweight league as the Alienware Area 51m 7700, but offers few of the Alienware's performance benefits.
The hinged lid on the Qosmio G20 is a faux-aluminium effect plastic, whereas the rest of the outer chassis is plain black. Where the two halves of the laptop meet, the sections are tapered inwards to create a V-shaped gutter around the edges. This is an elegant way of disguising the G20's height and gives you something to grip onto when you raise the screen into position. The Qosmio G20 is thick, at 43mm, and settles at a vicious 4.3kg on the scales. This might not seem overwhelming, but combine this with the weight of the bundled leather satchel and you'll curse it on even the shortest journeys. The external power supply adds even more weight.
The Qosmio G20's DVD drive is slot-loading, but the drive sled is not removable, so there's no chance to conserve weight by leaving it at home. At 406 by 285mm, the top of the G20 is the same size as an unfolded magazine -- the dimensions of an A3 sheet of paper. It's difficult to fit it into any rucksack or carry case other than the one Toshiba provides.
The attractive black keyboard on the G20 is surrounded by glossy black plastic. This is appealingly glass-like in appearance, but the initial allure quickly evaporates when fingerprints and marks build up on the gloss. The keys on the G20's keyboard are tapered on the lower edge, but not on the upper edge or sides. Keyboards are a very subjective experience, but we prefer tapering on all edges to reduce the likelihood of catching a finger when typing quickly.
The trackpad on the G20 is small and too textured for our tastes, making it hard to move the pointer smoothly across the screen. Another minor annoyance is the trackpad buttons, which sit too far beneath the trackpad to make them comfortably accessible. It would have made more sense to position these immediately underneath the trackpad, with no gap in between. They're seated beneath the surface level of the laptop rather than above, which means your thumb has to hit a very specific target area to click the button -- this can be surprisingly annoying. Given that you're likely to be using this as a desktop machine, you can always plug in a USB mouse and dismiss the trackpad completely.
The underside of the G20 includes a series of detachable panels that access the memory and two hard disks. These panels make it easier to swap out components without resorting to taking the entire chassis apart.
The left-hand of the Qosmio houses microphone and headphone ports, two USB ports and a socket which accepts a telephone cable for the internal modem. The rear houses a VGA port for external monitor connection, a D-video output that attaches to the bundled Scart cable, two more USB ports, an Ethernet port, S-video in and out ports, and a small jack for the bundled composite adaptor cable. On the right-hand side there's a FireWire port, a 5-in-1 card reader and slots for two PC Cards. It's clear this is a laptop with multimedia on its mind.