AMD Athlon X2 QL-64 processor (2.1GHz, 1M L2 Cache)
15.6" 16:9 LED-lit LCD
ATI 3200HD Graphics
4GB DDR2 RAM
320 GB HDD
Windows Vista Home Premium x64
The design is sleek, curvy, and sturdy feeling, with barrel hinges to hold the screen up. The top has an inset hexagon pattern, and a small silver Gateway logo breaking off an edge. It's design is completed with a bar of capacitive buttons, a sleek looking keyboard with letters in a new, more contemporary font than most keyboards have, and a sleek looking touchpad.
The screen is a 16:9 aspect ratio screen, 15.6" LCD, larger than usual LCDs in this size at 16:10. The picture is excellent, vibrant colors offered by an LED backlight, complemented by a glossy UltraSharp LCD. As a nice touch, the brightness adjustment is smooth, instead of stair-stepped like usual.
There are a couple things to keep in mind. First, the 16:9 ratio equates to a resolution of 1366x768, offering less vertical space than comporable 16:10 resolution screens. Secondly, the glossy screen isn't everyone's thing, and does offer some glare in sunny conditions. Those are mostly personal preference things.
The keyboard takes advantage of the extra space offered by the screen, and gives you a true number pad as well. It also rearranges a couple other keys, and I found myself tripping over things trying to find the enter key a couple times (because I don't look at the keyboard when I type, I just follow the shape of the keyboard) but adjusted to it quickly.
The touchpad uses a bar with the Gateway logo, instead of traditional touchpad buttons. This actually was the most difficult thing to get adjusted to, actually. It is hinged in the center, so you press on either end of the bar to push the buttons, but the bar itself extends much further out than the touchpad does, and has less play at the points you would usually push a touchpad button and therefor is harder to use without readjustment. This would be moot for people that use tapping for clicking, but for people like me that absolutely hate tapping, it will take some getting used to.
That aside, the touchpad software has support for a new feature starting to appear in touchpads, for continuous scrolling. What this does, if you haven't seen it, is allow you to continuously scroll through a page by moving your finger like a shuttle wheel. It can also be installed on some older machines with the right drivers, but that's a hit and miss operation. I have come to love the feature on my own machine, myself, and find myself sorely missing it every time I can't use it.
As I mentioned, it has a bar of capacitive buttons above the keyboard. These include a power saver function, quick access to the Gateway MyBackup software, the WiFi switch, and a switch for turning off the touchpad when typing, as well as the volume control keys.
The LED's are integrated smoothly with the capacitive touch buttons. Most of the buttons will also light up to indicate their use as well.
It has a built-in webcam and microphone. Some possibly-scary pictures of me taken when I just woke up:
It supports video as well, and I'm going to talk about that some more. Simply because the cameras aren't very big, most notebook webcams record very dark images, and so have a brightness adjustment as part of their software. This usually has the effect of lowering the framerate of a recording, unless it is in a very brightly lit room. In an environment my on notebooks webcam would have cried over for brightness, this shot a perfect rate video. However, it is a little deceptive, because the actual webcam software's on-screen display crawls along at 3 or 4 frames a second. Don't let that concern you, because the recorded video itself will be fine.
Right side has your power button in the hinge, the 56k modem port, 2 USB ports, and the DVD drive. Left side has the AC jack, the Gigabit Ethernet port, a VGA port and an HDMI port, two more USB ports, speaker and microphone in, and the SD card reader.
The benchmarks turned out fairly average scores, but granted this isn't an extremely high performance notebook. The 3200 will do some work, and will be able to run a good amount at medium settings, but you're not going to be running Crysis at maximum on here, of course. Ultimately, it's not intended for gaming in the first place, but of course everyone games anyway and it will take things in stride.
As far as the DOOM3 benchmark particularly is concerned, which comes out as the worst on NBF right now, that is using the new standard test that all future DOOM3 scores submitted will have to use, which is at lower scores than the first one I ran that had 35 FPS, but is far more standardized than we have had here on the site before.
Size and Weight
The weight is about six pounds, at the higher end of the 15" class, but the increased size from the widescreen means the weight is distributed more evenly over the space, and it has a perception of feeling lighter than it's size.
Battery life was good, I got 3 hours and 20 minutes for general tasks, at a comfortable room brightness level. The LED backlight is going to help with this, as they require less power than CCFL bulbs do.
A key feature of this machine, and also something to keep in mind about accessories, is it comes with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. 64-bit Vista is of it self far more stable than the 32-bit version, because of some different things they can do with the 64-bit processor architecture. Most hardware manufacturers develop both 32-bit and 64-bit drivers together for new hardware accessories, but some older accessories might not have 64-bit drivers.
The DVD tray bezel seems easy to pull out of place and require snapping back, althought that might just be the unit I was sent.
At the end of the day, it's a solid machine at a great price, and will work very well for school needs!