Toshiba Qosmio F45 Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (49,941)

by Jerry Jackson

Toshiba advertises the Qosmio F45 as a "mobile digital entertainment notebook" with a 15.4 in diagonal widescreen for your high definition movies, high fidelity audio and high impact gaming. With an available HD DVD ROM, Intel Centrino Duo processor technology, 802.11ag and draft/n Wi Fi, and a set of powerful Harman Kardon speakers with one subwoofer, the Qosmio F45 might just live up to the advertising hype. But can it deliver, as Toshiba suggests, a true balance of "mobility, performance, manageability and connectivity?"

The specs for our review unit of the Toshiba Qosmio F45 are as follows:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5450 (1.66GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 667MHz FSB)
  • Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
  • 2048MB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM + 1024MB Intel Turbo Memory
  • 15.4" Diagonal Widescreen XGA TruBrite Display (1280 x 800)
  • Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 with 8MB-256MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory
  • 200GB Serial ATA HDD (4200rpm)
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/- double layer) with LabelFlash drive
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965 AGN* (802.11a/g/n)
  • 4000mAh Lithium Ion battery
  • 90W AC adapter
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 14.9" x 11.0" x 1.77"
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs
  • Price: $1,299.99

Build and Design

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Qosmio F45, if you’re already familiar with other Toshiba notebooks, is that the Toshiba logo has been replaced on the lid with the Qosmio brand logo in glossy silver plastic. This design element is also featured in the new Qosmio G45 and it tends to draw attention in a crowded coffee shop … most people aren’t familiar with the Qosmio name. Toshiba calls the color of the F45′s lid "Cosmic Black" but I’m still (thankfully) amazed an overzealous marketing person at Toshiba didn’t label the color "Qosmic Black."


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After releasing the latch and raising the LCD you are greeted with spacious palm rests, a large touchpad, and way more media buttons than you typically see on a 15.4" notebook. The design itself is very angular with just some light rounding to otherwise sharp edges. The exterior is all black and light gray plastic but unfortuantely the plastic feels thin and quite cheap. Tap anywhere on the notebook with your fingernail and you’ll hear a hollow sound. If you run your fingertips over the joints where two peices of plastic meet (such as around the optical drive or along the bottom of the notebook) you will feel the sharp edges of the plastic where the material doesn’t fit flush. Overall, the fit and finish of the F45 has room for improvement.


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One particularly nice design feature about the F45 is the front-mounted slot-loading optical drive. We can honestly say that this optical drive is the quietest slot-loading drive we’ve ever seen. Most slot-loading drives, particularly in notebooks, sound like power drills grinding plastic whenever you load or eject a disk. Although these drives look cool we usually aren’t crazy about them because they make so much noise. That is not the case with the slot-loading drive in our F45. Although the drive does make some noise when loading or ejecting a disk, the noise is hardly disruptive and actually quieter than some "traditional" tray-type optical drives. We really want to thank Toshiba engineers for putting such a nice slot-loading drive into the F45.

Screen and Webcam

The glossy 15.4" widescreen XGA TruBrite display is a genuinely impressive LCD. The 1280 x 800 pixel resolution may be a bit low for HD video, but both images and video appeared sharp with excellent contrast and bold color. There was no light leakage to speak of and both the horizontal and vertical viewing agles are reasonably good … certainly a great display for watching movies or viewing digital photos.

Overall, you would be hard pressed to find a better 15.4" notebook display among current notebooks, regardless of price, than the one used in the Qosmio F45.

The intergrated 1.3 megapixel webcam provides reasonable resolution and does a pretty good job capturing accurate color with a good frame rate. Video images are a little grainy, particularly in low light, but the webcam is certainly more than capable of solid video conference usage.

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Speakers

The twin Harman Kardon speakers located above the keyboard are a welcome addition to this entertainment notebook. The built-in subwoofer also adds impressive bass to the system. The combination of the speakers and subwoofer provide strong highs and righ, deep lows which make listening to music and watching movies as very enjoyable experience.

As with most of the Toshiba notebooks with Harman Kardon speakers and subwoofers, external speakers are not as much of a necessity as they are with notebooks from other manufacturers.

Keyboard, Touchpad, Media Buttons and Other Controls

The keyboard on the F45 is made from the same light gray plastic as the rest of the interior and features nicely sized keys with good feedback and even dedicated home, end, page up, and page down keys. Overall the keyboard felt nice but there was a significant amount of keyboard flex across the entire surface of the keyboard when typing … something that most users won’t appreciate.

One very nice touch with the design of the keyboard is the blue LED backlighting around the power button, volume control wheel, and the navigation wheel used for Windows Media Center and web page scrolling. The metal volume control wheel on the left side of the keyboard feels quite nice and produces audible clicks when turned. Unfortuantely, there is no on-screen display to tell you the current volume setting. The metal naviagtion wheel on the right side of the keyboard is a great solution for Windows Media Center and is also a nice addition for scrolling pages when browsing the web. There is also a dedicated "back" button located beneath the navigation wheel for moving back to the website you were previously viewing.


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In addition, directly above the keyboard is a selection of 11 media buttons that control everything from opening your web browser and playing video to adjusting screen brightness and changing your Dolby sound settings.

Ports and Features

As expected with most 15.4" notebooks, the F45 comes with a reasonable (if not jaw dropping) selction of ports. Since this system is being marketed by Toshiba as a "mobile digital entertainment notebook" it was a bit of a surprise not to find an integrated TV tuner or HDMI out port that have become a common site on home entertainment notebooks. The lack of an HDMI port is all the more noticable since an HD-DVD drive is an available upgrade for the F45. At the very least an IR receiver and ExpressCard remote control would have been a welcome addition. While the F45 still has a solid selection of ports, people looking for an "entertainment notebook" may be disappointed.

The list of ports includes:

  • 4 Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0
  • 1 Headphone out
  • 1 S/P DIF output port
  • 1 microphone-in
  • 1 VGA (15-pin)
  • 1 TV-Out (S-video)
  • 1 RJ-45 (LAN)
  • 1 Firewire (4-pin)
  • 1 ExpressCard/54 Slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)
  • 5-in-1 Digital Media Reader (SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, or xD)


Front view: LED status indicators, the screen latch, and a very quiet slot-loading optical drive. (view large image)


Left side view: Two USBports, ExpressCard slot, 5-in-1 card reader, and Firewire port. (view large image)


Right side view: Two USB ports, wireless on/off switch, microphone in, headphone out, S/P DIF out, and modem port. (view large image)


Rear view: DC power jack, heat vent, VGA out, S-video out, Ethernet, and security lock slot.(view large image)


The bottom view of the F45 shows plenty of vents, the memory expansion cover, the battery, and the built-in subwoofer. (view large image)

Performance

Thanks to the 1.66GHz T5450 Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of system RAM the F45 has a foundation for a reasonable level of performance. Unfortuantely, the use of integrated Intel X3100 graphics means that the system struggles with most graphic-intensive video games. Given the price point of $1,299.99, it is a shame that Toshiba was unable to either include dedicated graphics or a more powerful processor. That said, the F45 should still have more than enough performance for playing movies and music as well as streaming video via the web.

The spaceous 200GB hard drive provides more than enough storage space for your multimedia needs. However, the speed of only 4200rpm is a bit slow considering most notebooks are shipping with 5400rpm drives and 7200rpm drives are available as upgrades from other manufacturers.

Super Pi comparison results:

Notebook Time
Toshiba Qosmio F45 (1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, Intel X3100) 1m 17s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 03s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 34s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400) 0m 59s

PCMark05 comparison results:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Qosmio F45 (1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, Intel X3100) 3,261 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks

3DMark05 comparison results:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Toshiba Qosmio F45 (1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, Intel X3100) 845 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 3,116 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 916 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 871 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 2,013 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3DMarks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 4,236 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3DMarks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB) 2,530 3DMarks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3DMarks

HDTune results:


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Battery

The 4000mAh Lithium Ion battery that comes with the F45 provided 3 hours and 4 minutes of battery life with the screen turned down to half brightness and wirelessly browsing the web. While those numbers aren’t the most impressive we’ve seen they are quite good for a standard battery in a 15.4" notebook. That said, you may want to consider an extra battery or using the AC adapter if you plan to watch a full-length DVD movie on this notebook.

Heat and Noise

One area where the Qosmio F45 exceeded expectations was with heat and noise. This notebook remained remarkable cool to the touch and quiet even during benchmarking when the system was stressed and producing the most heat. Although the system fan on the F45 reamains on most of the time, it is whisper quiet and only becomes noticeable in a perfectly silent room or if the fan speeds up to the maximum setting. Despite the apparently thin plastics used in the F45′s construction, there were no hot spots to be found anywhere on the system during use. Even the palm rests and memory slot cover remained cool to the touch. If heat and noise are an issue for you then the F45 may be the answer to your prayers.

Conclusion
Overall our first impressions of the Toshiba Qosmio F45 are mixed. The F45 has a gorgeous screen, good built-in speakers and dedicated multi-media buttons that make the experieince of controling your movies, music, and web browsing second to none. That said, the plastics used in construction look cheap and the processor and gaming performance are sub-par given the price range.

Bottom line, the Qosmio F45 has some nice features like solid speakers and innovative media and web browser controls. Unfortunately, at the starting price of $1,299.99 there are many other notebooks with far superior performance … including some of Toshiba’s own Satellite and Tecra notebooks.

Pros

  • Very nice screen
  • Excellent selection of media buttons and other controls
  • The quietest slot-loading drive we’ve ever seen!
  • Good speakers
  • Plenty of hard drive storage space

Cons

  • Plastic construction looks and feels cheap
  • A little too much keyboard flex
  • Touchpad buttons felt cheap and made loud clicks
  • Unimpressive performance
  • Expensive for what you get


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