Top 10 laptops to replace your desktop PC

Bigger, heavier laptops with large screens (16 inches and above) can incorporate powerful hardware you won't find in smaller, lighter models. Most of these laptops are as powerful as a desktop PC

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Rating:

rating_icon_4_stars.gif

Pros:
Fast for gaming and everyday work
Large 17.3-inch 3D display

Cons:
So-so touchpad, some glitches in 3D playback
Short battery life

Bottom Line: You'd have a hard time finding a better multimedia laptop than this desktop replacement from Toshiba.

REVIEW:
If the Qosmio X775-3DV78 had wheels, it would be featured in a Fast and Furious movie--one of the good ones. Not only is it a swift everyday performer and a great game player, it has 3D, a sexy color scheme, and red backlighting for its buttons and keyboard. Throw in chromed speaker ports at the top of the keyboard deck, and you're surfing with the big boys.

Alas, at $1900, this street rocket ain't cheap. Then again, the best never is. Still, if you're looking for something more basic, yet having the X775's styling, you can find configurations as cheap as $1200 with the same looks and same 17.3-inch display, but with slower CPUs, less memory, and so on.

The Qosmio X775-3DV78 turned in a speedy WorldBench 6 score of 128 and delivered gaming frame rates that were playable even at the 17.3-inch display's full 1920 by 1080 resolution (albeit, just barely). Needless to say, even the highest bit-rate video files played flawlessly. All the horsepower is generated by an Intel Core i7-2530M CPU served by a massive 8GB of memory, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 560M GPU. A 7200-rpm Seagate Momentus 500GB hard drive doesn't hurt either.

Running 3D proved slightly problematic, however, most likely due to software issues. The X775-3DV78 comes with a pair of Nvidia 3D vision glasses to match the 3D capabilities of the GTX 560M, and Corel's WinDVD is on hand for 3D-movie playback, though you must first set up the 3D using Nvidia's control panel. Unfortunately, in my first attempt to play back Resident Evil 3D, the movie continually stuttered.

Troubleshooting was a slow process, as every time WinDVD was minimized, it started the disc again from the beginning. However, after installing all of the most recent Windows 7 Home Premium updates, the main movie played fine, though the 3D menu and parts of the logo intros still stuttered. Hopefully, future driver, WinDVD, or Windows updates will correct the problem.

Audio is major strength of the Qosmio X775, thanks to a bottom-mounted woofer. It's one of the few laptops in existence that actually produces an adequate amount of bass. Add that rare ability to the aforementioned large, 17.3-inch 3D screen and the unit's video prowess, and you have one of the best multimedia laptops on the market.

Aside from the lack of eSATA, the X775's ports and connectivity are all state-of-the-art. The laptop has three USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port (which ameliorates the lack of eSATA), as well as ethernet, VGA, and HDMI ports. One of the USB ports is always-on so that while the laptop is asleep you can still charge your cell phone or other mobile device. Bluetooth is also on board as well as 802.11 b/g/n wireless.

The weight of the X775 is a drawback, though it's not unusual for a desktop replacement. It weighs a hefty 7.5 pounds, and the AC brick is large--you won't want to drag this unit around with you on long hikes. Also, battery life is only 2 hours, 2 minutes--a brevity typical in laptops with powerful components and large screens.

Ergonomically, the Qosmio X775 is just shy of top-notch. The keyboard works crisply, and the layout is extremely well done; however, the lack of sculpting on the keys makes for a less secure feel for touch-typists. And while the touchpad is nicely responsive and its buttons have a reassuring click, its placement at the very front of the keyboard deck and well to the left of the unit make for a big stretch and an odd feeling when you use it. This is something you'll undoubtedly get used to, but you should play with the unit for a while to make sure you like it.

Software-wise, the Toshiba comes with the usual array of helpful apps such as Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, the Google Chrome browser, the aforementioned Corel WinDVD, and Corel Digital Studio for creating slideshows and videos. A fair number of not-so-helpful utilities from Toshiba that duplicate Windows functionality are also on board, resulting in a lot of unnecessary background processes. Spending some time culling these will improve the performance of the preinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.

Reviewing this Qosmio proved to be a pleasant experience, thanks to its great performance and gaming, its stellar audio and video, and its 3D capability (despite issues there). The hot-rodder good looks aren't so wild that the more staid consumer shouldn't consider plopping down their desktop replacement allowance on it--especially those who want a great entertainment notebook.

Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7106
Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7106 Review, by Jon L. Jacobi March 30, 2011

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