Already a Bloomberg.com user?
Sign in with the same account.
If you want a solid performer at minimal cost, check out the slim, light, and supremely practical NX200S
Some trends in notebook computers have been thankfully consistent in recent years: they're getting thinner, lighter and cheaper. But when it comes to product quality, the trend has been anything but predictable: Smaller does not always mean better.
So when I embarked on a review of Gateway's (GTW) latest low-priced notebook, the NX200S, I didn't expect much. The device sells for $599 after $150 in rebates. And the first computer I reviewed in this series, the Acer Aspire 3000, proved the adage that you get what you pay for (see BW Online 10/31/05, "This Acer Aspires To Adequacy").
But in this second review in a series of the lowest-priced laptops I can find, I was pleasantly surprised. Gateway's highlight: battery life. As I did with the Aspire, I charged up the battery, turned the screen up to full brightness, and inserted a DVD. After disconnecting AC power, I let the movie play. I even used the same DVD as before: Rocky.
Not only did this machine get all the way through the movie on battery power alone, but it got part way into a second viewing. It took two hours and nine minutes before the computer shut down the software playing the DVD in order to put the machine to sleep. For those of you keeping score, the Acer lasted 53 minutes under the same conditions.
As tough as its battery proved, I found the screen a little wanting. It was generally up to the job, but lacked brightness around the edges. Like with the Aspire, I kept wanting to turn up the brightness just one more notch, only to discover it was already set on maximum.
NOT SO LOUD.
The NX200S has an Intel Celeron Processor running at 1.4 GHz, and ships with 256 megabytes of memory and a 40-gigabyte hard drive. One welcome addition is a four-in-one media slot that supports four types of flash memory cards: SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and multimedia cards.
Having four formats in a single drive makes the machine friendly with most brands of digital camera. You can insert the flash card directly to the computer to transfer photos without having to carry around a data cable,for instance.
Another nice touch is a simple volume control wheel directly on the front of the machine, putting an end to what I often find to be an infuriating search for the volume control within the Windows operating system. The external speakers were rather quiet, though anytime you might want to play something loud, you're more likely to want to use headphones anyway.
BIG VALUE, SMALL PACKAGE.
Weighing in at 5.29 pounds, the NX200S is a tad heavier than it looks, but at least part of that weight comes from the 14-inch screen. And it's just over an inch thick, so it has the feel of a nice, thin notebook. It also stayed comfortably cool after a few hours of use.
Concerns over screen brightness and speaker volume aside, the Gateway NX200S serves up great value for a low price.