Toshiba Qosmio G45-AV690 Review

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$3199
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Gorgeous 1080p display; Excellent Harman Kardon speakers; Included HDTV tuner; Better performance and battery life than predecessor; Very good graphics

The Cons

HD DVD instead of Blu-ray

Verdict

Toshiba's Penryn update to the G45-AV680 makes a great system even better, but the HD-DVD drive is now a buzzkill.

Featuring a stylish Cosmic Black Pearl design, very good performance, ample storage, and a stunning 1080p display, the Toshiba Qosmio G45-AV680 was one of the most versatile desktop replacements in 2007. With the G45-AV690, Toshiba makes an already excellent notebook better by including Intel's new 45-nanometer Penryn platform, which offers even better performance and battery life. We wish you could pick up this powerhouse without the now virtually obsolete HD-DVD rewritable drive, but the G45-AV690 is still one of the best multimedia notebooks around.

Design

Like the G45-AV680 that came before it, the 10.6-pound G45-AV690 features a beautiful 17-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution Ultimate TruBrite widescreen display, which brilliantly showcased our U2: Rattle and Hum HD DVD in full 1080p. We were equally wowed by the powerful Harman Kardon Bass Reflex speakers (with subwoofer), 1-bit digital amplifier, and Dolby Home Theater audio technology, which produced crisp audio.
Embedded in the bezel above the display is a 2-megapixel webcam that takes typical notebook-quality video and stills. The glossy, white keyboard is spacious and we liked the inclusion of illuminated multimedia buttons and a chrome-plated volume wheel. The fingerprint reader is nestled between two large mouse buttons. The wide-aspect touchpad is small, but we adjusted to it quickly.

Features

New to this notebook are the inclusions of an Open Cable TV tuner and Regza Link (HDMI-CEC) technology. The former is an HDTV tuner that lets users view and record live digital HD (and analog) programming fed from an HD antenna or digital cable box; the latter lets you connect the system to Regza-Link-enabled devices (such as external monitors, televisions, or cable boxes) via the HDMI port using a standard cable and control them with a single remote.
The G45-AV690 comes packed with five USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, VGA, S-Video, FireWire, Ethernet, modem, microphone, and two headphone jacks. There are also slots for a PC Card, ExpressCard/34/54, and 5-in-1 memory card reader.

G45-AV690 Performance

Powered by Intel's new Penryn-based 2.5-GHz processor, 3GB of RAM (expandable to 4GB), and twin 5,400-rpm 160GB hard drives, the G45-AV690 notched a very good PCMark Vantage score of 3,470--nearly 700 points higher than your average desktop replacement. In fact, it was only outclassed by the Gateway P-171XL FX Edition, which saw a score of 4,045. The G45-AV690's MobileMark 2007 score of 206 was 73 points higher than the G45-AV680, and it lasted 3 hours and 25 minutes on a charge, which is 37 minutes longer than its predecessor. Wireless performance was good: The 802.11a/g/n signal moved data at a rate of 18.8 Mbps at 15 feet from our access point and 13.8 Mbps at 50 feet.
The Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics pumped out a 3DMark06 score of 3,091 (up from the G45-AV680's 2,961), and a 3DMark03 score of 10,378 (up from 9,145), which means that the G45-AV690 should handle all but the most demanding gaming titles. This bore out on our F.E.A.R. tests. In autodetect mode (at 1024 x 768 resolution), the G45-AV690 averaged a very good 64.6 frames per second; with the settings bumped up to maximum (still 1024 x 768 resolution, but with added textures and filtering), the system maintained a still-playable 27.3 frames per second.

Software and Support

The G45-AV690 features a solid software package that contains Windows Vista Ultimate, a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition 2007, a 30-day trial of McAfee Internet Security Suite, and Ulead DVD Movie Factory 5. The system is backed by a one-year limited warranty and 24/7 toll-free tech support. Fortunately, there's only a minimum of trial software, so your computing experience should be snappy.

Qosmio G45-AV690

Priced at $3,199, the Toshiba Qosmio G45-AV690 isn't for penny-pinchers, but the superb audio and video capabilities will make it a must-have machine for multimedia junkies. It may not pack the sheer graphics muscle of the high-end gaming rigs, or all the bells and whistles of the 20-inch HP Pavilion HDX, but for a 17-inch multimedia notebook, the Toshiba Qosmio G45-AV690 is an excellent choice. Our only reservation is that HD DVD has lost the format war, and consumers cannot order this system without that drive.
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
CPU 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300
Operating System MS Windows Vista Ultimate
RAM 3GB
RAM Upgradable to 4GB
Hard Drive Size 320GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Display Size 17
Native Resolution 1920x1200
Optical Drive HD DVD ROM
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT
Video Memory 512MB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) S-Video
Ports (excluding USB) Modem
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) Firewire
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) VGA
Ports (excluding USB) Dual Headphone
USB Ports 5
Card Slots PC Card
Card Slots ExpressCard
Card Slots 5-1 card reader
Warranty/Support One-year parts and labor/One-year 24/7 toll-free
Size 17.4 x 11.8 x 1.5 inches
Weight 10.6 pounds
Company Website www.toshibadirect.com