Addicted to Chaos

Posted on 31st March 2011

Sometime ago, a website I was working on needed the ability to view images on the current page from a thumbnail. Many websites now feature this functionality, but at the time only a few seemed to offer this, and the assumption was that the javascript required was rather complex. As such, I did a search of the viewer libraries available, either as Open Source or for free download, that I could use for a commercial website.

The initial search revealed a rather more limited result than I expected, and seemed to imply that the complexity had put people off from developing such a library. However, in retrospect it seems that a market leader has become so popular, stable and robust, that others have choosen to provide different or limited presentations based on similar designs.

Back last year I began writing a review of some of the viewers, but never got around to finishing it. Having some time recently, I decided to both complete the review and revisit the viewers to see what improvements have been made since I first investigated them.

Before I begin the individual reviews, I should note the requirements I was looking for in a viewer. Firstly, the viewer needed to be self contained, both with files and directory structure, so that the feature could be added or removed with minimal changes to other website files. The viewer needed to be run completely on the client side, no AJAX or slow loading of large images would be acceptable. However, the most significant requirement was that all code needed to work in IE6. Unfortunately this latter requirement was non-negotiable.

I was quite surprised by the results of the solutions I could find around the web, and although there are likely to be others now, the following is a brief review of each of the four immediate solutions I found, and my experiences with them.


Possibly the best know thumbnail viewer library available, and now a clear market leader. The original review was with v2.04, which had been the stable release from 2008. This month (March 2011) has seen a version 2.05 release with added IE9 support. Lightbox is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License, and is free to use for commercial projects, although a donation would be very much appreciated.

While this viewer works in most browsers, and the features of images sets and loading effects looked great, it proved unworkable in many of the IE6 browsers I tried across multiple platforms. Despite searching in forums and in some howtos, there didn't seem to be an obvious fix to the problem. The viewer would either not load at all, load with a black layer over the whole web page, or begin to load and crash the browser. I know there are many problems and faults with IE6 and the javascript rendering engine, but these were supposedly stable releases.

As Lightbox makes use of the Prototype Framework and Scriptaculous Effects Library, which was already being used within the website the viewer was for, the library initially seemed to be the best fit. Failing IE6 so dramatically and consistently, disappointingly meant it couldn't be pursued further.


Slimbox is a Lightbox clone written for the JQuery Javascript Library. v2.04 is the last stable release, and the release that was originally reviewed. Slimbox is free software released under MIT License.

Slimbox is based on Lightbox 2, but utilises more of the JQuery framework and is thus slightly less bulky. While working well in the browsers I tried, it flickered several times in IE6 when loading the image. Anyone viewing the effect with eplipsy might well have felt ill. Even for someone not affected by eplisey this strobing effect was extremely off putting. I suspect this problem may well be an alternative side-effect to those seen with the original Lightbox, but again forums and howtos didn't provide a suitable fix in order to remedy this problem.

Dynamic Drive Thumbnail Viewer

This is the first thumbnail viewer that Dynamic Drive have available, as the second is an inline viewer rather than an overlay, which is what I was after, and is the version made available on July 7th, 2008. Scripts by Dynamic Drive are made available under their Terms of Use, and are free to use for commercial projects.

This a very basic viewer, relying on basic functionality rather than flashy effects. As such, it is simple in design and presentation. Rather than create a full browser window overlay, as both Lightbox and Slimbox do, the Dynamic Drive viewer simply contains the viewing image within a simple DIV layer tag. There is the possibility to add visual effects, but these can be easily turned off.

This seemed to work in most of the browser tried, except when clicking the image in IE6. The image appeared, but then immediately a javascript error popped up. After quickly reviewing the configuration and turning off the animation, the viewer opened and worked seamlessly across all the browsers tested.

Highslide JS

Highslide JS is a very feature rich library, which provides much more than an image viewer. Highslide JS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License, which means you are free to use the library for non-commercial projects. For commercial projects two payment methods are available, $29 for a single website, and $179 for unlimted use.

The feature set for displaying images includes the style of animation to open images, the positioning of text, and the linking of image sets. In addition, it also provides many features for regular content, which can then be used for tooltip type pop-ups, using embedded HTML, IFrames and AJAX. Another standard feature is the ability to allow the user to move the pop-up around the screen, to wherever might be convienent.

However, there is a downside. While this works well in most browsers, even just loading the Highslide JS website in IE6 throws up several errors. With the library being so feature rich, it is a considerably larger codebase, although removing comments can remove this down to just over 8KB, and I suspect some of the older browsers may not be able to handle some of the complexity. Their compatibility table suggests that it works all the way back to IE 5.5, but in the tests performed for IE6, when the site did open without crashing the browser, the viewer itself felt rather clunky when an image was opened and several of the visibility settings just didn't work. You also frequently get an 'Unterminated string constant' error pop-up, which just feels disconcerting considering they are asking you to pay for commercial usage.

If IE6 wasn't a factor, this may have been a contender, as the cost is very reasonable for a commercial project that would utilise all its features.


These are just the four viewers that were prominent in searches for a "thumbnail viewer". They all seem to have the same, or at least a similar, style of presentation of images, which is likely due to the limited way images can be displayed as an overlay. However, the basic functionality of displaying an image seems to have been overshadowed by how many cool shiny features some can fit into their library, with configuration seeming to be an after thought.

With the ease of configuration to disable the IE6 error, the basic functionality and the freedom to use for commercial projects, the Dynamic Drive solution was utimately chosen for the project I was working on. If IE6 wasn't a consideration, I would have gone with Lightbox, as we already use Prototype and Scriptaculous. With IE6 usage dwindling on the website in question (Jun 2010: 38.8%, down to Mar 2011: 13.2%), it is quite possible that we may upgrade to a more feature and effect rich viewer in the future, and Lightbox does seem to be a prime candidate.

Consider this post a point of reference, rather than a definitie suggestion of what image viewer library to use. There may be other choices that suit your needs better than these, but these four are worth initial consideration at the very least.

Browsers & Operating Systems

For reference these were the browsers I tried, and the respective operating systems. And yes, I did test IE6 on Linux, where it occasionally stood up better than the version on Windows! Though this may be due to the lack of ActiveX support.

  • IE6 (WinXP, Windows7, Linux)
  • IE7 (Windows7)
  • IE8 (Windows7)
  • Firefox 3.6 (WinXP, Windows7, Linux)
  • Opera 9.8 (Linux)
  • Opera 10.52 (Linux)
  • Chrome 5 (Windows7, Darwin)
  • Chromium 6 (Linux)
  • Safari 4 (Darwin, iOS)

File Under: opensource / review / technology / usability / web / website

Who Knows Where The Time Goes

Posted on 27th March 2011

Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review
Friday 25th March 2011
Alvechurch Social Club

Since Alvechurch's very own Slim Pickins was put on indefinite hold, there was still a desire to do something on the last Friday of the month. So in January the very first Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review took place. The night is quite different from the previous Roots & Blues Club, but does feature some familiar faces. The biggest difference of the night is that everyone is there to listen to some interesting performances, rather than just out for a night of music. It's created a very different dynamic within the audience, the most noticeable affect being that everyone stops talking and listens to each act. As most performers only play two songs each, it allows for a lot of variety.

To beginning the night, as per usual is Paul Chamberlain, who was then followed by Pippa Morley opening with Black Velvet and Angie O'Rourke performing a very pared down version of Dancing In The Dark. Next up were The Withybed Poets. While most of the performers tonight are singers or musicians, The poetry readings from The Withybed Poets added a nice flavour to the night. The first set ended with a change to the planned roster, with Nicole performing a song she had written with Graham Higgins (the act she filled in for), but which has yet to receive a title.

The second set featured a band put together for the night, Public Sector, featuring Graeme, Paul, Keith and Tony. The highlight of their set has to be their own unique interpretation of The Erie Canal, reworked as The Worcester Canal, with the Captain Pugwash theme tune tagged onto the end. The Withybed Poets came back for a second stint, adding Sam to their line-up. Of all the poems they performed The Doctor's Waiting Room by Meg was a personal favourite, which together with her earlier ode to Rugby Players, proved Meg has quite a talent for the comedic poem. Next up was Katherine, featuring a rendition of Joni Mitchell's Marcie. Last act of the second set featured Iain & Nicole. The first song was one penned by Iain, The Snowflake Song, with their second song Who Knows Where The Time Goes by the Sandy Denny, who Iain admitted before playing the song that he only discovered recently, while Nicole has been a long time fan, and has performed a few of her songs solo at the Roots & Blues Club.

For the third set, Pete Gates featured some traditional blues songs on quite a unique brass guitar. Adrian Perry then took us back to the early seventies with rendtions of Ruby Tuesday, and the great sing-a-long Strawbs' Part Of The Union. Interesting to note that most of the audience knew all the words, especially the chorus! Adrian then added backing to final act of the set, Sue & Fiona. Their second song introducing us to some great "Gaelic mouth music".

For the final set, the Acoustic Roots Orchestra take to the stage, with most of the participants having already played during the night. The Orchestra is a result of The Workshop run by Paul to nuture talent within the village, and give those who might not otherwise feel brave enough to play on their own, a chance to meet others and work on ideas and songs.

It was a great night and a great selection of performers. The mix of music and performance worked well as did the idea of having several sets with breaks between. If you like quality acoustic folk, then you'd be a fool to miss future nights. The next Alvechurch Acoustic Roots Review will be on Friday 6th May.

Acoustic Roots Review featured:

Paul Chamberlain
Pippa Morley
Angie O'Rourke
Withybed Poets
Nicole Perrott Hughes
Public Sector
Withybed Poets
Iain Howarth & Nicole Perrott Hughes
Pete Gates
Adrian Perry
Sue Resuggan & Fiona Holmes
Acoustic Roots Orchestra


File Under: gigs / music / people / review

Garden Of Delight

Posted on 29th December 2008

Back in the Summer, we went on a family holiday to Torquay, as we had done the previous year. The year before we found a nice Indian restaurant, so had planned to revisit it again this year. Except this year I couldn't remember the name of the restaurant, and figuring there might be somewhere a bit closer to the hotel, reached for the internet. Sure enough there was somewhere closer, and certainly within walking distance, however it was a little odd to actually find only one review of all the Indian restaurants in and around Torquay. It was a glowing review mind, and even though it was for a Balti restaurant, we decided to give it a try.

Now for those unfamiliar with Indian restaurants, the Balti dish is very much associated with Birmingham, and despite several disputes as to its origins, most accept that you cannot get a decent Balti outside of Birmingham. Of course that isn't entirely true, but Birmingham has certain perfected the cuisine to such an extent that others don't seem to capture the flavours quite so well. Having said that, I do like a good balti, so was willing to give this restaurant a try.

The Balti Garden is just off the main high street heading away from Torquay harbour and the seafront, and within easy reach of carparks if necessary. It is in competition with a few other restaurants nearby, but the bright and welcoming frontage certainly draws attention to itself. The staff are also very welcoming and friendly, and seemed very used to accommodating children. The menu on offer covered a broad selection of curry dishes, including a healthy selection of Baltis.

I ordered a Lamb Tikka starter and Lamb Tikka Balti, Nicole chose her favourite of Garlic Mushrooms starter and a Sag Paneer & chips for her main. Dan and Ethne are used to curries and usually go for something a bit spicy, but the waiter recommended Chiken Tikka Pasander for them to share. The food was absolutely delicious and we all dug in, pretty much leaving a set of clean plates in front of us. For me the Lamb Tikka was cooked just right to the point of virtually melting in your mouth and the Balti sauce was full of flavour without any over-powering chilli powder added to it. Nicole was very complimentary of her Sag Paneer, although she did think the Birmingham restaurants cooked it slightly differently, as it did have a different texture to it. A very pleasant dish, just different. Dan and Ethne didn't complain, so can only assume the Pasander met with their approval.

I commented to the waiter that we should perhaps have mentioned that we were from Birmingham, as you only get a decent Balti in Brum, although I did add that the Lamb Tikka Balti was one of the best I've had. He laughed and told us that the chefs were originally from Birmingham, so it wasn't too surprising they got it just right. The staff made us feel very welcome thoughout the meal, having a run-in joke with the kids, and were happy to chat and let us take our time with the meal. The restaurant wasn't packed, although it was early evening so I expect their main business would have been later in the evening, but there was a constant stream of customers and it seemed a very popular choice for locals too, which is always a good sign.

We don't know where we will be going on holiday for 2009, but if we do head back to Torquay, I expect to be visiting The Balti Garden again. They even gave us a business card which allows us a 10% discount on our next visit, so it would be a shame to not take advantage of it ;)

Having eaten at The Balti Garden, I now understand why they were the only Indian restaurant in the Torquay area to get a review. It is one of the best Indian restaurants I've ever eaten in throughout the UK, never mind the Torquay area. So if you happen across this review while searching for Indian restaurants in the Torquay area, you would do well to head straight to The Balti Garden and give your taste buds the chance to experience some wonderful culinary delights.

File Under: food / review / torquay

Head Down

Posted on 13th May 2008

Nine Inch Nails have done what many record labels would be absolutely terrified to do. Trent has given his latest album, The Slip, away for free. And not any old dubious quality download (like a another high profile band tried to do), but top quality MP3s, together with lossless FLAC and M4A files, and the WAV multitrack files to enable fans to make their own remixes. In fact fans haven't been slow in uploading their remixes to the site either, several tracks off the new album are already there as well several hundred other mixes.

Trent has been quite prolific in recently with this being the fourth album in as many years. Okay so Ghosts was an experimental project, but it still counts. Of the 3 regular albums, he started to change tack slightly, and although the albums were still very much Nine Inch Nails, there was more of a whole album feel, rather than a collection of songs. This was never more so than on Yero Zero. It was only recently I discovered the Year Zero alternate reality game, which has been fascinating to read about. I knew there was a concept behind the album, but never realised the scale it had been conceived on. The NIN Wiki has lots of info if you're interested.

The Slip, however, goes back to the regular collection of songs. On first listen I wasn't completely bowled over, but did think it was worth playing again. The album is a grower, and after several repeated listens, there are a few tracks that I'm starting to think will be firm favourites in years to come. After listening to remix of Head Down, entitled Head Down (Further) if you can find it on the remix site, I relistened to the track and felt I'd opened hidden door. Hopefully it won't be too long for the tour to come to the UK, then I can make up for missing the two gigs they scheduled then cancelled in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, then rescheduled while I was in Vienna.

However, the biggest buzz about the current way Trent is doing business, is going to have a few people sitting up in the record industry, taking notes. The Slip, has been released completely free, with a Creative Commons license that allows you to play, listen and remix to your hearts content. Trent even states on the website "thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one's on me", which is quite a bold statement. You will be able to buy a CD, and judging from the responses, most fans are likely to do just that. Even though you can get the album for free, it's more about being able to listen to the songs on whatever medium you chose, without any fear of the RIAA or similar. Trent no longer has a traditional record deal, and being much more clued into the technological revolution that has been happening for the last 10 years or more, and indeed has positively embraced it, understands probably better than most what his audience will give and take. There aren't many artists that are comfortable just giving their music away, in fact Prince is the only other person I can think of that would, seeing as he's already given away his last album, Planet Earth, as a free CD with The Mail on Sunday.

I don't think artists and record companies will be rushing to follow suit, but I do think more artists will be considering the benefit of having their fans play with their tracks to see what they can come up with. Nine Inch Nails though do have quite a creative fanbase, that many others must be envious of, and one that is very loyal, as Trent himself astutely notes. I'm enjoying listening to the Remix site, and can imagine an official remix album may well see a release a some point. But then again, that wouldn't be anything new for Nine Inch Nails.

File Under: internet / music / nin / review

Father Ruler King Computer

Posted on 11th May 2008

A few weeks ago I was approached by Talk Toshiba to review one of their laptops. As I had already been thinking about getting a new laptop for myself, and have previously liked the Toshiba laptops, I took them up on their offer. However, the Toshiba Qosmio G40 that arrived wasn't anything like what I was expecting. The problem with my expectations was that I was hoping to use it like a regular laptop. The Qosmio is a big beast both in its dimensions (440mm x 230mm x 45mm) and its weight (4.4 kg), and wouldn't fit in any laptop bag I had, or my rucksack. I came to the conclusion that looking at it as a laptop is perhaps misleading. Anyone using it as a portable computer, which is effectively what the term "laptop" is used to imply, is going to have problems. Using it as a replacement high-end desktop in the home or office, or as a media centre is more likely to get the best use out of the computer.

Before receiving the Qosmio for review, I investigated a few sites to get a feel for what the machine was about. The specifications on Toshiba's own site give the basics and an idea of the hardware inside, but I wanted to see what tests and trials it had been through, as I wouldn't be able to do any like for like comparison tests, but look at it more as a working machine. Several of the web pages I found referenced various games, including Quake 4, so I decided I would dust off my copies of Quake 3 Arena, Rollcage and Revolt, plus a few other racing games, to see how it faired. I also wanted to see how well it worked as a replacement development machine, and planned to install a LAMP stack and set up a local dynamic website. Lastly, or more acurately firstly, I wanted to see how it faired installing Linux on it. What follows is both my experience of these attempts and some further aesthetic observations.

On its arrival, aside from its size and weight, the first thing about the look of the machine was the keyboard half of the computer. The bottom half has a glaringly shiny white surface, with bright blue LEDs inlayed into the side controls, as well as along the front edge and back panel to illuminate what features (Caps Lock, Wifi, Bluetooth, etc) were active. When you first look at all the white and LEDs, I get the sense that its meant to look flashy and impressive, and it does until you start to use it. The LEDs end up being far too distracting, and while the edge and back panel illuminations are needed, the brightness isn't. My current laptop uses a lower light (and probably wattage) green LED, that can be easily ignored. The LEDs around the controls is purely cosmetic and becomes irritating.

The screen looks like it would be about 20" widescreen from the case size, but with the speakers inlayed either side, we get a 17" widescreen, which is still big compared to many laptops. I've been used to standard screens for so long, widescreen does still seem a bit odd, even though it is pretty much the standard these days, especially for watching movies and the like. The quality of the screen is fantastic, and if you don't want to buy a new HD ready TV, this is definitely a suitable alternative. Both for movies and games the quality was extremely impressive.

Looking at this machine for it's Media Centre qualities, the LEDs and the white keyboard top are a really bad idea. One of the first try outs for machine was to watch a DVD. The reflectiveness of the white and brightness of the LEDs meant we had to use a thick black cloth over it so we could watch the screen. I'm really surprised that Toshiba haven't had any feedback about this aspect, as it would seem to be an obvious flaw. Following recent announcements, the other aspect of the Media Centre sales point for the Qosmio, is no longer the selling point it could have been. It claims to be the first laptop to have a HD-DVD player built in. Thankfully it plays regular DVDs and CDs too, so it isn't completely redundant. I don't own any HD-DVD movies, but I'm sure they play wonderfully, as the quality of regular DVDs was great. One nice aspect about the Media Centre qualities, was that the laptop comes with a remote control. It was quite handy to sit back and watch DVDs and use the remote to click through the menus or adjust the volume without having to reach over and touch the laptop itself.

I did briefly try the 2MP onboard camera, which looked to be a pretty decent webcam. Despite only being 2MP, the quality looked great on screen, and I was surprised to see that the picture looked really crisp. I don't know anyone I would use this facility with, and never got to try it over a internet connection, so I have no idea what the refresh rate would be like, although these days with all the broadband rates increasing, it's likely to be pretty good. Plus that sort of thing is down to the connection not the laptop, so if you're looking for this sort of feature, then it's definitely a plus.

A big downer for me personally though, was that it come pre-installed with Windows Vista. I did ask whether I could install a Linux distro before I got the machine for review, as any laptop I buy now must be able to run Linux. I have both Ubuntu and Fedora disks, so I was eager to see how they faired. All Linxu distros seem to suffer installation problems with brand new laptops, so I was curious to see whether where an issues here or not. As there didn't seem to be any reports on the web I was hopeful. Unfortunately both Ubuntu and Fedora suffered with TTY issues. After searching on the web for specific issues with Linux on the Qosmio, I drew a blank and reluctantly gave up. Had it been my own laptop, I would have made more of an effort to find the problem, and possibly fix it. I suspect the nVidia graphics card, as they usually are the cause of many installation issues with Linux, but I was a little disappointed with Toshiba, as normally their machines are very good at installing Linux and just working. My old Toshiba Satellite is still going strong after nearly 10 years. However, the TTY issues leads me to think that the latest nVidia graphics card inside, hasn't currently got any working Linux drivers for it, and given time this may not be a problem.

Despite not having tried Vista personally, the changes I knew of and what I'd seen on other laptops hadn't impressed me, and now having tried it, I can't find anything about the OS particularly inspiring. In fact, I really hope I never have to suffer Vista again. Vista tries too hard to out think you, fails and ends up being irritating to the maximum. The Qosmio has a big silver volume control to the left of the keyboard. If you turn the volume down you would expect, like every other volume control on every other laptop I've ever used, that ALL noises would diminish in volume, and mute if I turned it far enough. However, Vista assumes that its own annoying pips and squeaks don't count. Finding how to turn off the pips and squeaks is annoying in itself, but I shouldn't have to jump through hoops to turn the volume down for anything. If I don't want noises, I don't want noises! Admittedly this is not a fault of the Qosmio, but hopefully Toshiba will put pressure on Microsoft to make their OS work correctly with their laptop and not be a nuisance. This was just one irriating feature that could be tied to the laptop, there were several others, and I would prefer to see Toshiba invest some time working with some of the Linux vendors and see about getting them to work out of the box on it too.

As I use all my laptops as development machines, I decided I would install a small dynamic website and see how easy it would be to both set up the website and make changes, running a LAMP stack (albeit without the L (Linux) and replace it with W for Windows). I downloaded the latest copies of Apache, MySQL and Perl for Windows, and I started get really irriated with the obstructions that Vista puts in your way. One of the first things I downloaded on getting the laptop was Firefox, so using that to download and and launch the installer, already pops up a clear warning. However, Vista additionally blocks you from running any application twice further. Like once wasn't enough, because like you're using Windows so you must be really stupid. Despite the user I was running as, and installing with, is the Administrator, Vista doesn't care and insists you are stupid and really don't know what you're doing and insists on getting confirmation twice that you aren't stupid and really do know what you're doing.

So I finally get Apache, MySQL and Perl installed. The next step is to fix the configuration files. Now Apache has changed since v1, and uses a main configuration file and then separate files for specific areas, one of which is the vhosts configuration. It makes it easier to keep logical sections separate. However, initial setup means you first have to play with 2 files. Vista again, despite being the Administrator user, thinks you are too stupid and locks you out of changing the file. The ONLY way to change the file is to save it to a temporary directory then drop down to the explorer (more of THAT in a moment) window and manually copy, jumping through the two pops asking whether you really aren't stupid. This included changing the /etc/hosts file to add a local domain! All this took over an hour to sort out, and I still wasn't finished. With every other laptop this takes about 10 minutes to set up. I gave up in the end as I had better things to do.

One aspect of using a Windows machine for development is that I use both Explorer (not IE) and the command line a lot. Some are surprised to learn I used the latter almost all the time. However, Vista has seen fit to hide these away. Anyone used to using a Windows machine, particularly a less experienced user, is going to have difficulty finding them, seeing as both were immediately available from the Start button. In fact the only thing about the Start button they have got right is that it is smaller and has changed to an icon. The start menu is radically different to any other, and ends up being confusing and irritating trying to figure out how to find what you want. I wasn't planning on Vista bashing, as this should be a review about the Toshiba Qosmio, but it really spoiled my experience of the laptop and meant I wasn't able to enjoy using the laptop as much I potentially could have. It's only served to ensure that any laptop I buy in the future must NEVER have Vista on it.

An aspect of any laptop produced these days is how it's builtin wireless hardware performs. I'm pleased to say the Qosmio's networking features worked without a hitch and really quite smoothly. I noted that the builtin Wifi automatically set itself to talk 804.11g, rather than the 'b' or 'a' variants that my other laptops seem to choose. The bluetooth detected my phone as soon as I enabled it on the phone too. Although as yet there isn't any bluetooth control features available, which would have been nice, but I guess that is something that is specific to the type of phone you have.

As mentioned earlier, I dusted off some of my PC games. Unfortunately, some didn't install due to requiring Windows 98. I found this a bit of a shame, as I suspect it was only some software detection that was stopping it running, not the actual game software. Quake 3 Arena, Rollcage and Hedz all installed fine and it was great to play them all again. I used my personal USB mouse, which justed worked (as it should do in this day and age) together with the keyboard and was very pleased to see the responsiveness of the games. having a larger screen and not being restricted to sitting at a confined computer desk, meant I could play on a large table and have room to move and perhaps more importantly not have to sit so close to the screen. Again the screen quality was fantastic, with both the vibrant colours standing out and the non-reflective element making it much easier to see everything that was happening in the game. The speed of the games was much more realistic, which I guess is more due to the Dual Core CPU in use, so that the game can run uninterrupted on one core and the OS and other processes running on the other. Quake was definutely a joy to play again and I'd forgotten how much fun Rollcage was. My very first desktop was bought for gaming, and online gaming in particular, and the Qosmio is a great upgrade for both now.

All in all I wouldn't recommend this as portable laptop. As a Media Centre or a high-end games machine, then it fairs much better. However, with a price tag of over £1,600, it doesn't come cheap. For me personally I wouldn't choose this machine for a new purchase. I don't play games like Quake often enough, and we already have a new HD Ready TV and DVD player, so it isn't really a must have, plus I really want something that is portable (can I use it on the bus) and can it run Linux (preferably Ubuntu or Debian). If you're a gamer and want to be able to set up round your friends house, or just don't want to have a bulky desktop taking up room in the house, or want something that is part computer/part DVD player, then the Qosmio would be a reasonable purchase. However, I would temper that with the fact you have to have Vista on it. I really hope Toshiba invest some effort getting other OSs working on the Qosmio or getting Microsft to write a decent OS, although I doubt either will happen soon, and suspect the latter is an impossibility.

If you're interested in reading more about the laptop, check out the official Toshiba Qosmio G40 page online.

File Under: computers / laptop / review / toshiba

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