Thursday, June 10, 2010

Toshiba Qosmio - Hands on

First impression

x505 is a very powerful gaming (ish) oriented laptop from Toshiba. Actually, it is pretty powerful (of course a laptop can never be a desktop replacement) for the amount of money you spend on it.

First of all I was impressed by the amount of bloatware and crapware Toshiba installed in this computer. The size of the hard drive is 500GB. After formatting only 477GB are available for use (this is normal). From this amount, Toshiba wasted about 27GB for crapware (well, I guess 1 or 2 GB goes to Windows OS). So, only 453GB were available.
When starting Windows, then amount of RAM wasted to run all Toshiba bloatware is 1.4GB and the boot time is OVER TWO MINUTES. Amazing, huh?
Edit: Just installed Windows XP 32 bit and the boot time is about 40 seconds. Toshiba offer no support for Windows XP or any other 32 bit OS, so you are on your own if you REALLY want to do it!
See my post in July. It will give you some guidance in this big adventure. It took me more than 16 hours to do it.

Computer specs

Toshiba Qosmio x505, red/black
CPU: Intel Core i5 M430 2.27GHz
Screen: 18.4"
HDD: 500GB
Graphics: GForce nVidia GTS360M
(see details at the end of this post)

OS: Win 7 Home Premium, 64 Bit
Price: $1099 + $47 shipping
Purchased from: J&R, USA (They really suck. I paid $47 for overnight shipping but they delayed the shipment few days).

Windows Experience Index (Win7 64 bit - June 2010)

CPU: 6.7
RAM: 5.9
GPU: 6.8
HDD: 5.9

Windows Experience Index (Win7 32 bit - February 2011)

CPU: 6.4
RAM: 7.1
GPU: 6.8
HDD: 5.9

I know, compared with my ancient desktop computer, the performance of this laptop really sucks.

Included stuff

Included goodies*: none
Included software (not counting free crapware like Acrobat Reader): Microsoft Works

*I was expected to find some goodies in the package, such as USB adapters, VGA/HDMI adapters, screen cleaning cloth, car 12V power adapter, etc, etc, etc. There was nothing in the package (except the gigantic brick-like charger). Nothing. Not even the Windows 7 CD. I never receive such a disappointing empty package for an expensive product in my life.


Performance index: Windows 7 gives a shameful 5.9 to this Toshiba laptop.
For $1200, an index of 5.9 is not something to be proud of. With this kind of money you can upgrade your PC to a mega number-crunching monster.

Dead pixels: none
I was lucky here :)

Screen quality (1-10 scale): 6 (update: I just downgraded this to 5).
Screen quality is good. A bit too Very bright and over exposed. You will have to set the brightness way over 100% to get an acceptable image. At the same time, the more you decrease the brightness, the more you may want to compensate by increasing the contrast. Unfortunately, on most laptops (Toshiba Qosmio included) there is no button to adjust the brightness.
Update: I just found that I can adjust screen brightness and contrast from nVidia software. The image quality is much better. Unfortunately, the controls are not easy accessible (more than 3 clicks away). If the light level changes often in your room, it will be difficult to re-adjust your screen contrast.

TouchPad quality (1-10 scale): 2 3.
The touch pad has a rough texture. This makes your finger not to smoothly glide over it so the cursor movement is extremely jerky especially if the fingers gets sweaty.
Update1: the more I use the touch pad the more I hate it. I will go today to purchase a true touch pad tablet.
Update2: I just upgraded this from 2 to 3 after uninstalling touch pad drivers. Now it works way much better).

Quick multimedia buttons:
Some buttons have a very bad placement, so when you rest your arms or use the keyboard you accidentally touch them. Most annoying is when you want to press the Escape key and accidentally touch the "start player" button. This will start the dreadful MediaPlayer when you DON'T need it.

Sound quality (1-10 scale): 6 8
Update: The choppy sound improved significantly after uninstalling crappy sound utilities (not sound drivers) such as Dolby Surround tool. Grade upgraded for 6 points to 8.

Keyboard quality (1-10 scale): 7
Keyboard itself is not bad. On the other side, its layout is not great.

Keys layout (1-10 scale): 4

Web camera quality: average
Compared with the web camera I have on my EEE PC 1000, the quality of this web camera is really poor. The edges of objects appear extremely sharp (like in a game with no anti-aliasing) and the image is extremely dark if the room is not enough illuminated (you need to stay in direct sunlight to obtain a good picture).

Slimness: 2
Adjectives like slim, small, tiny, thin, etc cannot be used when one is describing this computer. The laptop is gigantic and mega heavy. However, I will not give a small grade to Toshiba Qosmio because it is big. I wanted a powerful and big screen laptop so I expected something big (even though it could have been better).

Battery and Power adapter:

Yes. This laptop needs a special section for 'power adapter'. The power adapter is more than "huge". I will rather use adjectives such "gigantic", "humongous", "enormous" and "brick size" for weight and size.
Here are some reviews right on Toshiba's web site. 99% of customers agree that the charger is huge:

Battery will discharge to 1% in about 3 hours. Not very bad, but also remember the battery is youg, it will get old really quickly especially that Toshiba exaggerated with the loading time - about two hours to fully charge the battery!! This will kill the battery really soon!
Test conditions: Initially the battery was fully charged. I was installing drivers for Win XP, browsing the Internet, rebooting 4 times. The screen brightness was set to 6 (out of 8).

Design: 9
Very very nice design. The red back-lights make a nice impression over the black background, especially in dark.

Boot speed: 3
Boot speed time after some bloatware was remove from start up is about 105 seconds. We can see that the low performance HDD drive put its fingerprint over computer's overall speed.

Nice things
The TouchPad has a handy button from where you can quickly turn it on/off.
Nice, design. Nice backlight for all non-keyboard buttons.
Pretty quiet when working at low capacity (extremely loud for 4-5 seconds after power on).
Nice HDD anti-shock (and anti-drop) protection.
eSATA port (I really needed that for my external drive).
Button to turn on/off the wireless LAN.

Adware, crapware, bloatware

The worst thing about this laptop (except the power adapter size and no support for XP) is the software. So, the first thing to do first after purchasing the laptop was to start uninstalling the crapware and adware.

Adobe Acrobat reader: 209MB
Toshiba Online Backup (you have to pay to use it): 2.2MB
Amazon Links (more crappy stuff that you need to pay for): MB
Google Toolbar for IE: KB
Norton Internet Security (demo): about 200MB
Microsoft Office Student 60 Days demo: about 350MB
Jerky sound utility (makes Winamp lover the volume every time the OS makes a system sound.
NetZero adware ("free" software that connects you to a service for which you have to pay)
Some blog/hosting services adware ("free" software that connects you to a service for which you have to pay)
WildTangent adware ("free" gaming platform that connects you to a service for which you have to pay)
TouchPad driver (interfere with my tablet driver; the touchpad acted weird anyway before isntalling the tablet)
Many other garbage Toshiba utilities removed...



Big and powerful.
Very good gaming performance (for a laptop).
Good speakers.
Good battery file (for this power consumption).
It doesn't get too hot.


Tons crappy software (bloatware) preinstalled.
Really bad drivers.
Poor sound card.
It came with Windows 64 bits. No software and drivers for Windows XP.
Poor customer support (no email support at all). No printed manual. No Windows CD (or at least recovery CD).
Gigantic power adapter.
Really heavy (well it is somehow expected to be that heavy).

Overall feeling (1-10 scale): 6

Full specifications

Display Type: Widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display

Screen Size: 18.4"

Maximum Resolution: 1680 x 945

Memory Type: DDR3

Memory Size: 4GB

Memory Speed: DDR3 1066

Memory Slots (Total): 2

Maximum Memory Supported: 8GB

Capacity: 500 GB

HDD/SSD Drives Included: 1x 500GB

Hard Drive Speed: 7200 RPM

Processor Brand: Intel

Processor Class: Core i5

Processor Speed: 2.26GHz, Dual-Core, 430M

Processor Number: 430M

Operating Systems: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

Expansion Ports: 1 - Express Card Slot/54 or 34

Graphics Description: Discrete Graphics


Video Memory: 1GB GDDR5 discrete plus up to 1274MB dynamically allocated

Optical Drive Type: SuperMulti DVD±RW Dual Layer Labelflash

Supplemental Drive Type: Media Reader

Capacity: Multi-In-1

Media Types: Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, SecureDigital High Capacity, MultiMedia cards

Audio Description: Integrated Audio

Audio Chipset: Dolby Home Theater

Audio Channels: Built-in harman/kardon® stereo speakers

Integrated Microphone: Yes

USB Ports (Total): 3

eSATA/USB 2.0 Combo: 1

FireWire Ports: 1

Audio Out Jacks: 1 - SPDIF, 1 Headphone out

Microphone Jacks: 1

VGA Ports: 1


eSATA Ports: 1 eSATA/USB Combo

LAN: Atheros AR8131 PCI-E Gigabit

Wireless: Realtek RTL 8191SE

Communications Description: Integrated LAN, Integrated Wireless LAN

Data Transfer Rate: Up to 300 Mbps, 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN

Protocols: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n

Width: 17.4"

Height: 1.63"

Depth: 11.6"

Weight: 9.7 lbs

Mouse Type: TouchPad Pointing Device

Buttons: Volume Media Enable/Disable Mute Energy Saving Mode CD/DVD Control

Scrolling Capability: multi-touch control

Keyboard Type: Premium US Keyboard

Battery Type: 12-Cell Lithium-ion

Biometrics: Kensington Security Lock Slot

Color: Black/Red

Integrated Webcam: Yes

Software Included: N/A


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1 comment:

  1. You’re right, Acer’s aren’t bad computers and my comparison was a new Toshiba vs a 2-3 year old Acer.