Very light; great keyboard
Inefficient ventilation; known hard drive issues; poor customer service; unreliable; battery life much shorter than claimed
After using this laptop for 1.5 years, I feel confident in giving it a rating of Abysmal and I strongly discourage people from buying it. CNET's rating guide describes such a product as one which never should have been produced and can harm me or my productivity. I ... Read full review
After using this laptop for 1.5 years, I feel confident in giving it a rating of Abysmal and I strongly discourage people from buying it. CNET's rating guide describes such a product as one which never should have been produced and can harm me or my productivity. I believe all of these things to be true. I am definitely a disgruntled, angry customer, but I am not writing this review to seek revenge on Gateway; I simply wish I had been warned of the known problems this model has before I bought it, and think other people deserve that courtesy.
In under two years, I have gotten a new hard drive FOUR times, a new power cord, a new CD/DVD drive, a new fan, and am currently having sound card problems. Also, keys began falling off soon after I received the unit.
The ventilation system is illogically constructed and therefore inefficient. There is one tiny fan on the side, and a larger one right on the bottom of the machine, so that hardly any air gets out. I was told by Gateway Tech support to use what they called the "Two Pencil Approach": propping my machine up on pencils. I had not expected only to be able to use the machine when it is propped up on a desk; its versatility is compromised. A Tech Support person actually told me the entire set-up was "stupid" and he couldn't understand who would have designed such a thing. Unless the machine is set up very carefully, it becomes so hot it literally could burn me.
I have had consistent hard drive troubles, and the first three times I had to send the computer in for a new hard drive. The fourth time, Tech Support finally admitted to me that this was a known problem with the 200ARC and many similar cases had been reported. I am not a computer expert, but will try to relay what I was told. The problem, they told me, was that the ribbon which connects the motherboard to the hard drive is constantly coming loose due to the way it was constructed. Their solution was to send me a small piece of rubber to paste onto it to anchor it down, but now the covering over the hard drive doesn't fit properly. They could not verify to me that this wouldn't cause further problems. Because of these problems, during which I couldn't even access the operating system, I went for weeks without being able to use my computer.
After just a few months, some wire came loose in my power cord and began to spark. Even though I cared for the cord just as prescribed, Gateway claimed it wasn't covered under my warranty. The replacement cord they sent was different from the one that came with the computer and no longer worked with the surge protector they had persuaded me to buy; no restitution was offered.
The headphone jack has never been entirely functional, and sometimes will not put out sound when I plug in headphones or a speaker. After removing and reinserting the cord, or wiggling it, it sometimes works. The CD drive is extremely loud and sometimes shakes the whole machine; it has always been like that.
The batteries do not last nearly as long as I was told by the company. They last 45 minutes to one hour (I was told 3-4 when I bought it; I'm not sure what they're claiming now.)
It has a large screen, but the resolution is very low.
It makes a poor gaming computer. The video card is sub-par. For example, I cannot run the game "Age of Empires III" on it, even though I have Windows XP.
Overall, I am extremely dissatisfied with this product, as it has never worked as expected and it seems wholly unreliable. I have had to reformat my hard drive more times than I can remember, and have lost valuable information even though I am diligent about backing up information. I handle my machine with extreme care and am confident these problems are Gateway's fault, and this has been confirmed by Gateway's employees. I have had many things replaced, and new problems always seem to arise. I operate as if my computer will crash at any time, for this seems likely, given its past history.
The only good points about it are the excellent keyboard set-up and how light it is.
I will add a few words about Gateway's customer service because that seems relevant here.
The Tech Support people are nice, but not very helpful. I called at least a dozen times about my hard drive problems and was told something different almost every time; further, each time I called they would have me run the same tests (which could take up to two hours) even though my case file should have showed them I had already performed them. Even though they would give me case numbers to use when calling back about certain problems, most of the time they couldn't find me in the computer, even though I've called dozens of times. Every fourth time or so that I call, the computer system is down. They would lose my information and my case information. There seems also to be a disconnect between the Tech people and the shipping people, because sometimes things they were supposed to send never arrived, and someone in shipping would not be able to locate any order.