Annual Toshiba Refresh Brings Llano...and Some Style

The regular refreshes that come from notebook vendors aren't often the stuff of exciting news. It's generally a processor update, maybe a slight change in shell design. With Toshiba's 2011 refresh that's not entirely untrue, but this year they've timed their update to coincide with the launch of AMD's Llano APU and NVIDIA's launch of the GeForce GTX 560M. Their Fusion finish is also getting a much needed update along with the top-of-the-line Qosmio. Bottom line: there's a lot going on at Toshiba.

Toshiba's Satellite is broken down into three different lines: the budget-minded C-series, the mainstream L-series, and the performance-oriented P-series. Starting from the bottom, we have the C-series, which launched earlier this year and currently offers AMD's Zacate processors, from the C-50 up to the E-350. The only major update here is that Toshiba will now be shipping a 17.3" model, putting a large desktop replacement notebook in the reach of more budget-oriented consumers. These start at $379.99, and the Toshiba rep noted that the 17.3" C-series model would be around $499. Yes, Brazos in a 17.3" notebook.

When you bump up to the L series, you get access to Sandy Bridge, but now there's also Llano. Sandy Bridge-based Intel Core i3 and i5 processors will be available, with AMD-based models now sporting A4 and A6 dual- and quad-core processors. Notebooks will range from 13.3" up to 17.3".

The updated Fusion finish remains one of glossy plastic's last strongholds in retail, but the textured appearance makes it far less liable to pick up fingerprints and all the usual mess that comes with gloss; unfortunately Toshiba is still sticking with the glossy keyboard. Finally, the line will come with USB charging, a wide variety of colors (including a very attractive brushed aluminum blue as an alternative to the gloss), and in some configurations a Blu-ray drive. The 14" L745 series starts at $449.99, the 15.6" L755 series starts at $483.99, and the 17.3" L775 series starts at $579.99.

UPDATE: Toshiba let us know the 13" L735 will only be available with Intel processors. It's a shame; that form factor seems like a great place for Llano.

The P700 line may seem the most compelling, though. While these still sport the Fusion X2 finish, it's been toned down and the keyboard has been replaced by the slightly glossy island-style found on the Portege and the new Tecra lines. That keyboard is still a little bit problematic, but it's a major improvement on the older glossy flat keys. In addition, Toshiba implements Waves Audio and USB 3.0 along with USB charging across the entire line, and these notebooks will feature Sandy Bridge processors all the way up to i7 along with AMD's A6-3400M. Some configurations will also include WiMax, Blu-ray, and even NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M graphics with Optimus. The 14" P745 starts at $699.99, the 15.6" P755 starts at $629.99, the 17.3" P775 starts at $629.99, and if you want to make the jump to 3D there'll be a 17.3" P775 3D model at $1,199.99 that includes a 120Hz screen and active shutter glasses.

Last but not least is the new Qosmio X770. If you're like me you probably thought last generation's Qosmio was ostentatious at best, bulky and gaudy at worst. The X770 has had a major facelift and it's a real improvement. Red remains the signature color for the sleeker, slimmer new Qosmio but honestly, the red backlighting behind the keyboard looks downright evil, which may or may not be your cup of tea (it's mine). The 17.3" X770 comes equipped with a Core i5 or i7, a GeForce GTX 560M standard, and up to a 1080p screen. It starts at $1,199.99, but peaks with the X775 3D which comes equipped with a 120Hz screen and active shutter glasses at $1,899.99.

All of these notebooks are expected to become available by the end of the month, and we're planning on getting one of the new Qosmios in hand as soon as possible.

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  • ckryan - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I'm looking forward to the next incarnation of Llano (Trinity?). I'd be willing to trade a lot of CPU performance for integrated GPU performance, but not enough to go back to an Athlon II. In the desktop space I've been digging my Sandy Bridge. I have on occasion even used the HD3000 graphics for one reason or another -- it's a step forward, but not a leap. The laptop space is where I'd be willing to give up a lot of CPU for great integrated performance. I think next year is the year when that starts to look sexy -- when people start looking forward to the experience instead of holding their noses. To that end I hope AMD's forthcoming arch. is going to bridge Arrandale like performance with respectable, discrete level performance in a mobile processor. Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Yes, 2012 is the year of refinement/improvement/evolution for AMD products. This year is about introducing new ideas (APUs) and architecture (Bobcat and Bulldozer).

    From what I gather, AMD's Trinity will be a dual to quad-core 2nd generation Bulldozer-based APU that will have a Radeon HD 6700-class IGP. (720 to 800 cores).

    One speculation is that some of the GPU steam cores will be part of 2nd gen Bulldozer FPU. Some sort of directly accessible overlap?...As well, it may use triple channel memory. (???)

    ...I guess all this speculation/rumour/guessing will be confirmed/quashed in a year's time. I'm certainly holding out for it!
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I stand correct myself...Trinity won't be using mainstream Radeon HD 6700 class IGP.

    At the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011...

    Trinity = 2nd generation Bulldozer + Radeon HD 6900 class IGP !!!
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Radeon HD 6900 class IGP
    => Well, it maybe more to the fact its using VLIW4 for its IGP than the expect VLIW5.
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Now that I think about it more realistically, it's likely to be some sort of cut-down version of the Radeon HD 6900 series. Reply
  • Broheim - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    and it will be severely bandwidth limited, we're probably looking at midrange performance compared to today with a little luck. Reply
  • Broheim - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    err * memory bandwidth Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    AMD Fusion Developer Summit presentation slide says 50%+ over Llano's IGP in floating performance (single precision). => ~= 600 GigaFLOPS

    So that's almost like a Radeon HD 5670. (620 GigaFLOPS)

    Essentially...

    Trinity ~= Bulldozer (2nd gen) + Radeon HD 5670
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    The problem is rather a too weak core, 400 stream processors won't do much just as they are too weak on discrete cards.

    The problem is that they would need to double the size of the GPU-part in the IC for better, or real gamable performance. They simply need a smaller GPU-architecture for this to be successful. Efficient drivers.

    Not so much in synthesizing the CPU, the AMD CPUs where already manufactured in Dresden and CSM now GlobalFoundries plant in Singapore, which already had the tools to manufacture AMD chips. They only needed to make the Zacate/Ontario more portable as they are manufactured at TSMC. Problem is rather the GPU. They work great if you got room for 800 SP cores and can make a large IC-die. Together with GF's plant in New York it's not like they need to manufacture high-end cpus at other plants. They do however need to manufacture high-performance GPUs at GF eventually.
    Reply
  • mino - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    There would need tripple to quad channel RAM to feed anything above ~600 VLIW5 cores or equivalent.

    And that is simply not feasible in the core mobile market.
    Reply

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