Toshiba Qosmio X500-116 notebook
Toshiba's Qosmio desktop replacement laptops are big machines. Large, strikingly-designed and with lots of features. Add in Toshiba's exceptional build quality and you have a potentially winning series. This latest machine is the snazziest yet, with its gloss-black casing which Toshiba calls Precious Black. This will please Gollum. It comes with scarlet detailing (like on the Harman Kardon speakers, mouse buttons and - seriously - fingerprint scanner).
It looks great, though it's a bit like people with 60-inch TVs: it looks like you don't have a life beyond this massive object dominating the room. Still, the joys of all this screen real estate are evident. The 1920 x 1080 resolution is the same as on many a 60-inch TV, in fact and the 18.4-inch display looks pretty big when it's only a keyboard's distance away from you. Your hand can get tired repeatedly moving the cursor from one screen corner to the other.
The screen's resolution means video playback looks great including Blu-ray which, for obvious reasons, Toshiba had long resisted. This model has a Blu-ray recordable drive, so it's great for backing up your data. For video playback, the viewing angle is good enough to let two people watch side-by-side and those branded speakers sound pretty neat.
Start typing and it's immediately noticeable how comfortable the extended keyboard is - springy, solid and enjoyable to use. This is another of Toshiba's advanced skills and the company hasn't lost its touch, so neither will you. You won't lose your place, either, as the keyboard is backlit. Left of the keyboard is a series of red backlit icons. These are the media buttons to play, pause and so on. Touch them in regular keyboard use and they make a shrill beep, which is unfortunate.
The trackpad is not especially big and is just a flush matte oblong on the glossy surround. If you've ever found that brushing the trackpad sends the cursor jumping while you type, you'll know that turning the trackpad off is a right old faff, requiring digging down into software menus. In a stroke of genius, Toshiba has placed a dear little recessed button into the keyboard which switches the trackpad on and off. Excellent.
This laptop isn't cheap, so you can expect a fair amount of power for your money. The Qosmio has a speedy Intel Core i7-720QM 1.6GHz processor which performs well, an Nvidia GeForce GTS 360M graphics card gives you 1GB of dedicated graphics RAM so it all looks good and the generous helping of RAM (8GB) means multi-tasking is no problem.
Toshiba's hard drive protection system is efficient, perhaps too sensitive - move the laptop even slightly vigorously and the warning message appears. Better safe, of course, but it can be a little too insistent.
Toshiba has plenty of its own software to make the most of the computer. Along with the media capabilities, there are shortcuts for using the webcam, health monitors and more. Even so, there's no multi-touch trackpad.
This laptop will exceed most people's needs, but if you want a small HD monitor and decent gaming capabilities, this is a splendid-looking machine.
You won't want to lug this laptop around too much (at 4.6kg), but you may be happy to have it on display somewhere prominent, thanks to its stylish design. Though whether that's on your desk or somewhere suitable for watching Blu-rays is up to you. It's a powerful, expensive computer and very impressive, too.