The Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z is a 15.4in laptop with video upscaling technology that claims to produce HD quality from standard definition video.

While the winner of the high-definition format tustle was decided a year ago, Toshiba (which backed HD DVD) has yet to swallow its pride and stump up the licence fees necessary to build Blu-ray Disc hardware. Instead, it is investing in making the best of existing DVD film titles by video upscaling, as found on models from its Qosmio range of laptops such as the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z.

These claim to provide an HD-video quality experience from standard-definition video, by the use of an additional dedicated quad-core co-processor that offloads the intensive work from the dual-core CPU.

The Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z sports a humble 15.4in screen of only 1,280x800 resolution, backed with an nVidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics card with 512MB video memory. This is the same card found in the Acer AS6935G - and the similarities don't stop there, as they have the same capacity 320GB hard drives, 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processors, and even tip the scales to the same overall weight to within 8 grams of each other at just over 3.27kg.

The build quality and overall appearance of the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z is the least impressive of the Blu-ray laptops we've tested thus far. We really didn't like the poor quality shiny chrome-effect trim that encircles the laptop. On our sample this had been scratched in several places, revealing white plastic beneath.

The keys of the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z's keyboard also have a glossy black finish, and here we found the action to be good and the shine didn't detract from typing.

In benchmark tests, the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z scored well, earning 96 WorldBench points, just two points behind the similarly specified Acer.

Graphics test results proved unusual as the FEAR 3D game reported 9 frames per second (fps) regardless of quality setting - even though our subjective impression of frame rates was far higher. In place of the dubious FEAR results we turned to the more onerous Crysis test, usually reserved for high-end graphics cards, where the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z could boast 15fps at 1,024x768 High Quality settings, a respectable score for a laptop.

The Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z's poor battery life also mirrored the Acer AS6935g, at exactly 156 minutes, in the MobileMark 2007 Productivity test.

Testing of the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z's advertised video upscaling suggested that not only is there no benefit in the feature but it could actually degrade picture quality.

By toggling between ‘Upconvert' on and off, we saw colour and contrast boosted and detail artificially exaggerated, which served more to highlight MPEG noise. Standard definition video quality has potential for upscaling but sadly Toshiba's solution was found to deterioriate it.

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Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z: Specs

  • 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400
  • Windows Home Premium SP1 32-bit
  • 2 x 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB SATA I 5400rpm hard drive
  • 15.4in 1280x800 16:10 screen
  • HDMI, VGA
  • 3x USB
  • 1x mini FW400
  • DVD±RW, DVD+R9, CD-R, CD-RW
  • nVidia GeForce 9600M GT 512MB
  • 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
  • card reader
  • ExpressCard/54, TV tuner, eSATA, 56K modem
  • 4400mAh battery
  • 369x278x47mm
  • 3.3kg
  • 1-year warranty
  • 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400
  • Windows Home Premium SP1 32-bit
  • 2 x 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB SATA I 5400rpm hard drive
  • 15.4in 1280x800 16:10 screen
  • HDMI, VGA
  • 3x USB
  • 1x mini FW400
  • DVD±RW, DVD+R9, CD-R, CD-RW
  • nVidia GeForce 9600M GT 512MB
  • 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
  • card reader
  • ExpressCard/54, TV tuner, eSATA, 56K modem
  • 4400mAh battery
  • 369x278x47mm
  • 3.3kg
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

While the Toshiba Qosmio F50-10Z is let down by a poor screen and gaudy and cheap-looking exterior, its inherent performance is more than satisfactory.

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