Toshiba's long been a purveyor of high-end gaming and entertainment laptops. Its latest effort, the Qosmio X500-128, sports a huge, 18.4-inch display, a high-end Intel Core i7-720QM CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTS 360M graphics chip. It's available now for around £1,250.
If you're not a fan of red, the X500-128 isn't the laptop for you. The unit is predominantly black, but there are liberal splashes of shiny rouge over the mouse buttons, speaker grilles, Qosmio logo on the lid, and across all the edges. The end result isn't exactly subtle, but we're sure Toshiba conducted the requisite number of focus groups to convince itself that garish daubs of primary colour are what the kids are feelin' right now.
The X500-128 is among the largest laptops on the market today. Its 18.4-inch display isn't as ginormous as the 20-inch panel on the Dell XPS M2010, but it's not far off. Its chassis measures a whopping 442 by 41 by 294mm, and weighs 4.6kg, which makes it -- in laptop terms -- the size of a pregnant horse. It's a laptop, alright, but you may need more than one lap to support it.
The X500-128's girth has allowed Toshiba to furnish the laptop with a wealth of ports. Pretty much every connection you'd expect has been bolted onto the sides or front of this machine, including four USB ports (one of which doubles as an e-SATA port), an HDMI output, an Ethernet jack, a four-in-one memory-card reader, a four-pin FireWire socket, and even an ExpressCard slot.
The X500-128 also ships with a DVD drive. A Blu-ray drive is available on the higher-end, £1,400 Qosmio X500-11M.
Large laptops don't tend to have many problems with their input devices, as they're usually big enough to accommodate high-quality trackpads and keyboards. Sadly, the X500-128 is a mixed bag when it comes to inputs.
Its keyboard is great -- Toshiba's keyboards usually are -- but its trackpad is truly dreadful. It has real trouble tracking finger movements, and the cursor is jerky and unpredictable. It's possible to get around this issue by attaching an external USB mouse, but it would be good to have a trackpad that works in the first place.
The X500-128 is designed for the fun things in a geek's life. The 18.4-inch display plays a huge part in this, providing good image fidelity and plenty of room across which you can sprawl content in its full glory. Well, most of its glory -- the X500-128's display runs at a modest 1,680x945-pixel resolution. If you want to watch content at a 'Full HD' resolution, you'll need to connect the laptop to a 1080p television via HDMI, or opt for the X500-11M, which has a 1080p panel.
Toshiba's added a couple of curious features to improve the X500-128's multimedia credentials. Firstly, there's a media-shortcut pad to the left of the keyboard. This takes the form of eight touch-sensitive buttons for launching your favourite media player, adjusting the system's volume, skipping tracks, playing and pausing media, and launching the laptop's 'eco' mode, which lets you adjust how many watts of electricity it consumes. We're not sure how much use that last feature will get, as we can't imagine the X500-128's target audience caring much about the environment.
In typical Toshiba fashion, the X500-128 comes with a set of integrated Harman Kardon speakers. These offer better audio fidelity than standard laptop speakers, but that's really not saying much. They're loud enough to fill a very small room, but you'll want to attach a set of external speakers to the digital optical S/PDIF audio port, or use a set of headphones, if you really want to do justice to your audio.
The X500-128 is designed to be a high-performance machine. Its Intel Core i7-720QM CPU is one of the fastest chips available, and it also sports a whopping 6GB of RAM. Unsurprisingly, it scored a very impressive PCMark05 benchmark score of 7,852. That's on a par with the score of 7,861 achieved by the Asus G73Jh, which uses the same chip. The X500-128, however, lacks the instant overclocking capability that helped the G73Jh to also rack up a heady score of 8,077.
The X500-128's graphics performance is pretty fantastic. Its Nvidia GeForce GTS 360M GPU racked up a whopping score of 11,262 at a resolution of 1,024x768 pixels. That's not as high as the 13,036 scored by the G73Jh, with its ATI Radeon HD 5870 GPU, but this is a laptop that can certainly mix it with the big boys as far as gaming is concerned.
Sadly, the X500-128 won't be mixing it for long if you step away from the mains. In the intensive Battery Eater Classic test, it lasted a mere 44 minutes. With more frugal, anecdotal testing, we managed to keep the X500-128 running for about 1 hour and 35 minutes.
The Toshiba Qosmio X500-128 is a fabulous piece of kit that will serve you well whether you're a gamer or merely interested in watching movies on a large-screen, semi-portable device. It's not quite as quick as the best gaming rigs out there, but it's certainly worthy of consideration all the same.
Edited by Charles Kloet