While Americans still seem to prescribe to the old “bigger is better” mantra when it comes to cars, houses, and gas-station soft drinks, there’s no question that in the realm of laptops, smaller is sexier. Miniature notebooks like the MacBook Air, Asus Eee, and Lenovo X300 have proven that point over and over in the past year by successfully spinning small size into sales. But despite the trend, not all notebook manufacturers have been ignoring the other side of the spectrum.
Toshiba’s new Qosmio G50 laptop runs against conventional notebook logic by not only going big, but going bigger than ever before. It follows Acer’s Gemstone 8920 through the recently broken 17-inch size barrier with an enormous 18.4-inch screen. With all that viewing area and a native resolution that exactly matches that of 1080p HD content, Toshiba is pushing the G50 as the ultimate portable movie machine.
But as it turns out, a large screen isn’t all the G50 has going for it in the cinema department. It also has some unique movie-centric hardware squirreled away within. Besides the usual CPU and GPU, the G50 sports a variant of the Cell processor used in the Sony PlayStation 3.
Image Courtesy of Toshiba
The so-called Toshiba Quad-Core HD Processor opens up many new doors for the Qosmio by taking tasks that ordinarily bog down the CPU and handling them on its own. The G50 can, for instance, comb through home movies or blockbusters with facial recognition to index scenes by character, or even allow users to control movies with hand gestures (it uses the built-in webcam to analyze your movements and pick the gestures right out of the air.) For DVD lovers, it will upconvert standard-def DVDs to 1080p on the fly, and for movie editors, it will speed up the processor-intensive task of transcoding HD movies significantly.
Toshiba complements this array of graphic niceties with the type of aural capabilities rarely found on laptops. Drawing upon technology from Harmon Kardon, the G50 gets both stereo speakers and a subwoofer packed into its shell, for a listening experience that should literally be booming. And if you would rather use the G50 as the media center for a real home theater system, it has full 5.1 channel output to power up your living room speakers, as well.
Since the processing power to play with movies runs hand and hand with the processing power to play games, Toshiba also includes an Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics card to round out the G50’s capabilities and give tired video editors something to do in their downtime (namely, blowing stuff up.) With 512MB of dedicated on-board RAM and DirectX 10 capability, the GeForce should provide plenty of brute computational power to fire up the latest games on the big screen.
Although Toshiba has released many of the most exciting specs for the G50 well ahead of its July launch date, the laptop’s most likely Achilles Heel – weight – has been curiously missing from press releases and tech specs. Based on the only other 18.4-inch machine the market, the aforementioned Aspire 8920, we would guess that the G50 would likely come in around 9 or 10 pounds. While that’s more than most people would ever want to carry, that does make it perfectly luggable in a household or office situation where a permanent desktop just won’t fly.
The commercial version of the G50 won’t hit the light of day until mid-July, but multimedia aficionados can brush up on its other specs ahead of time on Toshiba’s Web site.