Not many laptops have enough character to inspire a nickname, but Toshiba’s new X300 is one of the exceptions. Take one look at this enormous, flame-decorated, shiny-rimmed machine, and it’s hard not to be reminded of Starsky and Hutch’s famous Gran Torino, otherwise known as the ‘Striped Tomato’.
The problem with the Torino was that, in trying to make it distinctive, Ford forgot that people might actually want to drive the thing. So is the Striped Tomato of gaming laptops a purring sports car, or as much use as a piece of fruit?
It’s actually quite endearing to see something trying so hard to stand out in the often drab world of laptop design. Someone, somewhere, is going to love it. The problem is, that person will probably be Derek Trotter.
The biggest problem with the X300 is its sheer size. Again, like the Torino, it's simply unnecessarily big. Inside it has the latest Centrino 2 chipset, which helps it run cool and fast and not require miles of copper piping to take the heat away.
It's not even equipped with the fastest, hottest circuitry possible: the processor is a safe but not overboard 2.4GHz, and the graphics card a mid-range GeForce 9700M GTS. The speaker system is very good – one of the best, in fact – but do three small drivers make up around a kilo of excess weight?
Poor battery life
We don't expect gaming laptops to have great battery life – they are, after all, designed for performance rather than putting together a PowerPoint presentation on a train. But around an hour and a half for these specs is just not enough.
In terms of size and power efficiency, it's in the same league as the dual graphics card, Extreme Edition notebooks like the Asus G70, but doesn't pump out anywhere near enough frames per second to justify it.
That's not to say the X300 isn't good for games. By keeping the 17inch screen to a relatively low resolution – 1440x900 – you should be able to play even the latest games at high detail settings. There's an HDMI out too, for transposing over to a 'proper' screen when at home.
And, in fairness, when it comes to those added extras there's not a lot missing from the X300 – Bluetooth, wireless N and eSATA ports come as standard.
About the only things that aren't on board are a TV card and Blu-ray drive. Toshiba's new HD alternative is the upscaling Spurs Engine, based on the PS3 Cell processor, which will be in the forthcoming X305.
Overall, you'll get better overall performance from a more tasteful and lighter laptop like the MSI GT735. As much as car analogies are cliché when it comes to computers, if you're a fan of the work of MTV's West Coast Customs, then congratulations, we've found your laptop. Otherwise, steer clear.