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Toshiba Qosmio G45-AV690 Review

Our Verdict

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

For

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

Against

  • HD DVD instead of Blu-ray

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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Tech Specs

CPU2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300
RAM3GB
Size17.4 x 11.8 x 1.5 inches
Weight10.6 pounds
Display Size17
Native Resolution1920x1200
Hard Drive Size320GB
Operating SystemMS Windows Vista Ultimate
Ports (excluding USB)Microphone, HDMI, Firewire, Ethernet, VGA, Dual Headphone, S-Video, Modem
Video Memory512MB
Wi-Fi802.11a/g/n
USB Ports5
Card Slots5-1 card reader, PC Card, ExpressCard
Warranty/SupportOne-year parts and labor/One-year 24/7 toll-free
BrandToshiba
Company Websitewww.toshibadirect.com
BluetoothBluetooth 2.0
Optical DriveHD DVD ROM
Graphics CardNvidia GeForce 8600M GT
Hard Drive Speed5,400rpm
RAM Upgradable to4GB
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