Introducing the Toshiba Qosmio F755-3D290

Way back in the dark ages of CES 2011, we were able to lay hands on and play with some interesting new technology from Toshiba. They had a prototype notebook on hand that was capable of glasses-free 3D similar to the Nintendo 3DS, but with a bigger screen and the ability to track head movement and adjust viewing angles accordingly. Yet the release of this 3D notebook has been an unusually quiet one. Is the 15-inch Qosmio F755 a sound design, or is there a reason why it's been unceremoniously dropped into the marketplace?

The kind of glasses-free 3D that Toshiba employs in the Qosmio F755-3D290 has thus far been mostly confined to handhelds, like the odd 3D smartphone or the aforementioned Nintendo 3DS. Toshiba even includes a reasonably impressive piece of head-tracking technology that will shift the 3D viewing angle as long as the webcam can see you, at least once you've configured it. So why did Toshiba more or less sneak this one onto the market?

Toshiba Qosmio F755-3D290 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-2630QM
(4x2GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.9GHz, 32nm, 6MB L3, 45W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 1x2GB Samsung DDR3-1333 and 1x4GB Samsung DDR3-1333 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M 1GB DDR3
(96 CUDA cores, 672MHz/1344MHz/1.8GHz core/shader/memory clocks)
Display 15.6" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p, capable of 720p glasses-free 3D
Hard Drive(s) 750GB Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 5400-RPM SATA-II HDD
Optical Drive Matshita BD-RE (UJ240ES)
Networking Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9002WB-1NG 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
Audio Realtek ALC272 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Mic and headphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 48Wh
Front Side SD/MS/xD card reader
Right Side Mic and headphone jacks
2x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Left Side VGA
Exhaust vent
USB 2.0
USB 3.0
Back Side Kensington lock
Ethernet jack
AC adaptor
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 15.3" x 10.5" x 1.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 7.5 lbs.
Extras 1.3MP webcam
Keyboard with 10-key
SD card reader
USB 3.0
Glasses-free 3D
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Starting at $1,299
Our model: $1,699

You'll forgive me for my unprofessionalism, but the best word I can think of for the Toshiba Qosmio F755's configuration is "wonky." When I reviewed Toshiba's all-in-one, the DX735, I praised Toshiba for being able to produce a balanced system configuration that was well-suited to its intended purpose, but the F755 in any of its three shipping configurations is the polar opposite.

The bright spot of the F755 is the Intel Core i7-2630QM. The i7-2630QM and its successor the i7-2670QM are, in my opinion, the price/performance/power sweet spot of the mobile market right now. The F755-3D290 configuration employs the i7-2630QM, which is a fast quad-core processor with Hyper-Threading, able to turbo up and provide plenty of juice on two cores, but also capable of being fairly frugal with power consumption. Best of all, the i7-2630QM is reasonably inexpensive and shows up in notebooks across the board. OEMs like it, and I certainly wouldn't ever be unhappy with it.

Unfortunately things wind up being pretty screwy everywhere else. Why just 6GB of DDR3 instead of an even 8GB, especially with prices where they are? Why the dismally slow 5400-RPM hard drive, borderline unforgivable in a $1,700 laptop? Why Atheros's slow wireless solution instead of one of Intel's more capable ones--or at least give us something with support for two spatial streams and 5GHz radios? All this, and then a Blu-ray rewriteable drive? A Blu-ray reader would've sufficed.

Users planning on enjoying 3D Vision with the Qosmio F755 are going to be disappointed on two fronts. The first is the anemic NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M. The 540M is fine for gaming at 1366x768 without 3D, but 3D Vision is very demanding on graphics hardware and the 540M just isn't going to cut it. Fortunately that doesn't matter, because while Toshiba advertises 3D Vision support for the F755, it just plain doesn't work. I actually checked other reviews and they all ran into the same problem; when you click "Enable 3D Vision" on the laptop, it does nothing. I've read that NVIDIA and Toshiba are working together on a 3D Vision driver for the F755, but it hasn't materialized yet...three months after the laptop's release.

Finally, to add insult to injury, the F755 is not Optimus enabled. No intelligent switching between the Sandy Bridge IGP and the GeForce GT 540M, and battery life suffers tremendously as a result. Small wonder the notebook arrived with little fanfare.

A Design Out of Time
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  • chillmelt - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Color me blind but.. really? Why is the weakest A8 APU always being compared to some of Intel's best CPUs, on stock settings (reference sample) no less? An appropriate A8 APU can at least run around with a 6770M GPU. It's not like laptops with 3530-MX and discrete GPUs don't exist...
  • silverblue - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    I can see your point. The 3500M has a stock speed of 1.5GHz and turbo of 2.4GHz, whereas the 3530MX is 1.9/2.6. Even if you spend all your time at turbo with a single thread, it's still going to be a little faster in anything but GPU-limited situations, and for general workloads, decently quicker. However, perhaps AMD haven't sent one over to AT just yet; we can't expect a review on something they've not been given.

    I'm quite pleased to see the 3500M still very high up the battery charts even with a relatively small battery. A 3530MX with a 71Wh battery would be sweetness indeed if only they could attach a decent panel to the thing.
  • ckryan - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    I just continue to be amazed at the ridiculous nature of displays being ham-fisted into laptops these days. On average, even high end laptops have dismal screens, so when a laptop has a decent screen it's reason to take notice. If there was one thing I could convince manufacturers like Dell, HP, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, etcetera etcetera, it's that the display is so vitally important. Years back, everyone wanted a laptop. Now everyone wants a tablet. I use laptops less and less (when I can help it, that is) because my $99 TouchPad has a superior display. Now, I need a laptop and couldn't accept a tablet as a replacement but many can. Better screens won't stop the slide of laptops, but I think it would help. I know I won't buy another laptop until I can get one with a display in the style of my desktop, TV, and tablet (which is to say, good and IPS). It's difficult to tell people what it's all about, but I believe consumers with exposure to great displays are going to catch on to laptops with similar screens even if they aren't hip to the nomenclature.

    The Qosmio may have a terrible display, but it's not in rare company. In the same way, Dustin's AIO reviews reveal that if you're going to buy an all in one, display options are not stellar their either. Dell is the 800lb gorilla with questionable judgement -- Dell has an eIPS touch screen desktop monitor, but won't put it in their AIO. Getting a decent panel in a Dell notebook is like playing Russian Roulette. In the mean time, Apple is pushing better displays in mobile products and their AIOs. You'd figure with all the cribbing going on that PC makers could at least steal Apple's idea to put a halfway decent LCD in a product. Macbooks have TN panels, but at least Apple gives you a less-than-godawful TN panel for your money. Sure, some laptops don't have awful displays, but that's just because the bar is set so damn low.
  • ananduser - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Well HP has IPS Radiance displays in their 15" Envy. Sony has some nice mate screens going on. Things aren't so bleak as you make them sound.
  • r3loaded - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    There are several people like you and me (at least certainly on the internet) who yearn for a decent screen in a laptop. While HP do offer IPS in their Envy and EliteBooks and Lenovo have some high-end laptops with similar screens, the rest of the market offers nothing. The new AOC monitor that was just announced has shown it's possible to make a 23 inch IPS monitor for $200 (even if it's eIPS rather than H-IPS), which is not a lot more than TN competitors. It's therefore possible to make laptops with IPS screens that don't cost insane amounts.

    Unfortunately, manufacturers are still stuck in their race to the bottom mentality, and still can't work out how to build a laptop from good quality materials with a good screen. It's borderline insane that a $500 tablet has a better screen and build quality than several $1000+ laptops.
  • Draconian - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    $1700 for a 540M? Bah. You can buy a Clevo P170HM with a 6990M for $1800.
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    from the review: The i7-2630QM and its successor the i7-2670QM are, in my opinion, the price/performance/power sweet spot of the mobile market right now

    I happen to own for work a latitude with the 2630QM and yes it is great and low powerconsumption when idle. But Dell is asking 120$ more for a cpu upgrade from 2540M.

    That is 120$ for a 0.2ghz more? nah 2630 aint the sweetspot i would never add that much money for a bit more cpu, that is just throwing money away. SNB is very efficient so a 2.5 with turbo to 3.2 with HT not enough.... i call that imagination and bsht.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    The reason for that bump in price is because the 2540M is a dual core processor, while the 2630QM is a quad core. The extra cores are worth it, at least in my opinion. For garden variety crap I don't know that I'd care that much, but for any kind of real work I'd take the quad every time.
  • Menty - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Aye, the Q stands for quad :). The 2540's a dual.
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    you are right, i was comparing with my 2620M.

    Any kind of real work quad any time... for what to drag about, a mobile device doesn't require SNB quad unless you want to use it as a workstation or to drag about it... that will be really the bulk of users... I would trade that Quad for a daul any day, with the price difference you buy an SSD which makes the laptop fast. Not the money you give away for a few unused slower cores more.

    this design is totally out of balance
    Quad SNB
    5400RPM HD

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