With Toshiba just around the corner in Irvine, I’m lucky to get sneak peeks at what’s next. My last visit got me very excited because of what the company is doing inside its next Qosmio notebook: It’s adding the Cell.
Gamers may remember the Cell as the chip inside the Sony PlayStation 3. What I didn’t remember was that Toshiba and IBM worked with Sony on the chip. Then last fall, Sony sold its Cell-chip production factory to Toshiba. Should it surprise anyone that the Cell will be in certain Toshiba laptops by summer?
That’s the chip on the right, held by Dave McFarland, Toshiba’s product guy. It’s a quad-core HD cell processor that specializes in multimedia. Beyond the PlayStation 3, it’s also supposed to show up in Toshiba TVs and IBM supercomputers. And now… a Toshiba laptop.
The chip, now called the SpursEngine , won’t replace the Intel chip in the laptop. Rather, it’s a supplement that will handle video or other multimedia processing while Intel’s chip can concentrate on the usual computer duties. In useful language, Dave explained that a high-definition video that took him one hour to process now takes 10 minutes — a definite time saver.
And here’s a photo of a prototype of the new Qosmio:
If you’re a gaming enthusiast, you may be wondering, ‘Why is the Qosmio — the multimedia laptop — getting the chip first and not Toshiba’s gaming machines?’ He explained that games must be built to take advantage of the new chip. Playstation 3 games are. Computer games? Not at all. Game companies are currently working on such games but until then, it’s a waste.
“Our long-term goal is to work with companies like Adobe. Like, if you’re using Adobe Premier (video editing software), we could work with them to utilize the Cell engine,” he said.
While the Cell was the exciting news, the new Qosmio also will have some other great features, including an 18.4-inch screen even though the laptop’s size won’t be bigger than its 17-inch predecessor…
Possibly the most enticing factor for people who love tech but are on a budget, this baby is going to top out at $1,700, instead of the usual $3,000. Of course, there’s no Blu-ray drive. And to get the price down, Toshiba also axed the dual-bit amplifier and TV tuner, lowered the screen brightness from two lamps to one, and lowered the resolution from 1080p to 1050. But hey, that saves $1,300!
Dave also showed me some cool software being integrated into the machine. Using the laptop’s webcam, software can recognize movement (like Sony PlayStation’s EyeCam) so using a few simple hand gestures, users can control the screen without a mouse and without touching the computer. This would come in useful for PowerPoint presentations (moving to the next slide if you’ve lost the controller) or playing a movie (pause by holding a hand up). He demonstrates below:
Of course, these aren’t final specs. Things could change before release date next month. I’ll share more when I find out more. Shall I post more photos?