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Read this before buying a laptop
Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi | January 06, 2006
It's got the looks and it's rugged as well. Panasonic's CF-W2 notebook is a svelte beauty that can very well tolerate the daily grind of endless office work and traveling - no worries, even if you handle things a bit roughly. Perhaps that's why Panasonic calls it the Toughbook.
But while the CF-W2 is rugged, it's not heavy or oversized. It's incredibly light at 2.8 pound (lighter than the 3.1-pound Sony Vaio TR1A) and at 10.6 x 8.3 x 1.4 inches, it can easily slip into a bag or briefcase.
The base and lid are reinforced with magnesium alloy to protect the screen and internal components and this allows Panasonic to guarantee that the CF-W2 can withstand a drop from a height of 30 cm. (I tried this, actually dropped it by mistake, but I can say that this claim works).
That might not sound like much, but when you drop an expensive set like the CF-W2, any kind of shock protection is a boon. So, how's the hard disk protected? It sits cosily in an impact absorbent enclosure.
The DVD/CD-RW drive, under the right wrist rest, opens upwards rather than the usual slot or tray-loading design. So, I can safely avoid it from bumping into my neighbour's tray while making a presentation. Packed inside is a fairly standard keyboard and round touchpad layout.
Unlike the Vaio TR1A, it does not sport a digital camera that might be a turn off for few people like me. Panasonic promises a three-year warranty while most manufacturers offer only a year, and this, I understand, is a testimony of its quality and durability.
The slim design makes Panasonic compromise on some of the connectivity options. The notebook includes two USB 2.0 ports, VGA out (on the rear), the usual ethernet, modem, and line-in and-out, besides a type II PC card slot and a front-facing SD card slot. Bluetooth is conspicuous by its absence.
The single speaker is passable, though I found the sound through the 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack much superior. There's no fanciful high-contrast coating on the screen (12.1-inch XGA display) but then who said this baby is for gaming.
The screen is decent to look at even in dim or bright lights but then it doesn't compare to the Vaio, which comes with Sony's proprietary Xbrite screen technology making the 10.6-inch display a treat for the eyes.
The CF-W2 runs on a 1.1-GHz Pentium M CPU backed-up by 512 MB of memory, which is at par with the Vaio. The Pentium processor is good enough for business applications such as MS Office, web browsing, email, a few undemanding Photoshop exercises and web development. On the wireless front, the in-built 802.11b/g Centrino connection delivered a healthy 14.6 Mbps of throughput.
I managed to run the CF-W2 for over five-and-half hours before the battery bid good bye. (Conclusion: you can watch a regular bollywood film without any interruption).
On the whole, this toughie combines good looks with enough processing power for light business tasks, and it won't weigh you down on business trips.
Tagged at Rs 150,000 (plus taxes), you might get a regular notebook with better specifications at a cheaper price (like the Sony Vaio for approximately Rs 130,000 plus taxes), but do consider your priorities and how clumsy you are.
Moving from looks and weight, characters that Toshiba certainly does not put its money on, the Qosmio F20 from its stable is simply an entertainment centre. But a good one, though.
However, it's nothing short of a muscle job to lift and carry this 4.45 kg kit, measuring 406 mm x 285 mm x 48.9 mm. I really couldn't compare it with any of the other lighter or smaller notebooks in the market. Don't even think of using the F20 as a "lap" top. I tried watching a movie while on the move (in car), but ended up with a stiff leg by the end of the ride.
But, I have to say I was sidetracked by the picture and sound quality. The built-in Harmon/Kardon speakers and SRS tru-sound technology were a treat (I haven't seen these speakers in any of the notebooks around where single mediocre speakers are all that you get).
Any music lover would know how flat beats and bass sound on laptops with single speakers, but F20's sound was surely music to my ears. Personally, I think Toshiba could have done a much better job on looks. The laptop body is encased in a high-quality white plastic that feels sturdy but doesn't convey the sense of class.
The Qosmio F20 is your answer to a desktop PC. It flaunts a High Luminance Clear SuperView 15.4-inch wide-screen display (now, it's certainly a pleasure to look at). It sports an integrated TV tuner, DVR, DVD SuperMulti Double Layer drive, and virtual surround-sound stereo subsystem.
If I may cite a few technical details, Toshiba didn't forget "connectivity limits". There are ports for analogue VGA, USB 2.0, IEEE1394 Firewire, PC Card slot (Type II) and Bridge Media. The ethernet and input ports are placed at the rear to hide unsightly cables and prevent tangles, which is a well thought out design.
The F20 puts its size to good use by incorporating a full-size keyboard, touchpad, a row of dedicated A/V buttons and a "not-so-commonly" seen volume dial. Thanks to the Intel Centrino chipset there is support for Wi-Fi, 802.11 a/b/g that delivers up to 108 Mbps. The battery (a rechargeable six-cell Lithium Ion or Li-ion 14.8V with 4400 mAh capacity) weighs 320 grams but leaves a lot desired since it can service up to two hours of power (certainly not enough for a full length movie).
The built-in TV tuner is good for capturing local TV channels at an acceptable quality. The best part was the time-shift recording function that let me capture and playback television programmes.
If you're getting late at office - the F20 can capture your show! And should you reach home half an hour into the programme, the notebook can play back the previous 30 minutes while continuing to record.
The F20 is the first Toshiba notebook to feature the QosmioPlayer, a built-in software that allows users to play DVDs and CDs using standard AV buttons, without having to boot the computer into Windows.
The necessary buttons are on a row on top of the standard keyboard and can play a music CD in a couple of seconds. With a wide screen display (a 15.4-inch transflective LCD capable of 1,280 x 800 pixels) and running Microsoft's Windows Media Centre 2005, Toshiba has pretty much ensured that it can act as a full-on digital hub. However, I will not give it any prizes for portability.
I would recommend this buy, for those who like to have a complete sight and sound experience and for this you will have to shell out Rs 134,000 (plus taxes).