Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Toshiba Qosmio F30 oddities

The Qosmio line from Toshiba adds a new capability to their laptop line: It's a DVR and DVD player using some BIOS software. The result is that you don't need to boot any OS (i.e. Windows Media Center) to use these features. It also means that even if your system is destroyed by a virust these features will still work. On top of this, Toshiba ships the system with a remote control that will make your experience even more comfortable and the Harman/Kardon loudspeakers deliver a good audio experience too (with richer bass sound than most other laptops).

But there are several catches that Toshiba let slip under the carpet. My first surprise was that inside the package they include a USB infrared receiver. My first thought that it could be there just in case you do not have a good angle when using the built-in receiver. I was wrong. I latter learned that Media Center Software is not compatible with the laptop's built-in infrared receiver so the USB one is required to use the remote control with Windows Media Center software.

My second surprise was that even though I had a working wireless conection with the laptop, Windows Media Center consistenlty ignored. Only after I did configure Wifi access within Windows Media Center I could download the TV program guide off the Internet. I do not know if this a bug or a "feature" but it took me several attempts to get the thing right. (Maybe it is written somewhere in the user docs, who knows).

While I have almost no trouble getting the built-in DVB-T receiver working under Windows Media Center, I failed to discover whether DVB-T is available or not under the QosmioPlayer BIOS software. In fact I only managed to get the the analog TV receiver under the QosmioPlayer software. It seems odd to have some features available under Windows Media Center but not others and, at the same time, to have the missing features with the QosmioPlayer BIOS software (just a reboot away).

I did fail, too, to get analog TV under Windows Media Center. I was not important but it might be due to the fact that the Qosmio F30 laptop seems to have a dual analog/DVB-T receiver (although most of the online reviews do not emphasize the fact). As I have zero experience with Windows Media Center it might be single cause of my failure.

All in all, I think Qosmio laptop line (I've tested a 15 inches model) is a good desktop replacement and a heavy laptop. It performs well and it is a good companion for your big flat screen.

By the way, you should stop using your DVD player to see your family photos on TV and to switch to analog VGA (or even better HDMI) to take advantage of your new plasma/tft TV. Photos will look sooo much better ... just give it a try.

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