Editor's note: In early September 2005, Gateway changed the names of many of its laptops. Read our explanation to learn how to make sense of the new names and where to find CNET's reviews of Gateway laptops. (10/13/05)
The first wide-screen convertible tablet we've seen, the $1,964 Gateway CX200X gives users a DVD-friendly laptop as well as a tablet with plenty of writing space. With the big, 14-inch screen comes considerable bulk, however: the CX200X weighs almost seven pounds--and that's without the optical drive onboard. Clearly, the Gateway CX200X is too heavy for handheld mobile use, but if you're interested in writing on the screen of a powerful midsize notebook, it's a good choice.
Slightly wider than the $1,599 Toshiba Satellite R15 and the $1,999 Acer TravelMate C310, the pudgy CX200X measures 13.5 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 1.5 inches thick at the front. At 6.9 pounds, the Gateway's weight falls between that of the Toshiba and the Acer; add in the bulky, 1.22-pound AC adapter, and the CX200X tips the scales at 8.12 pounds--too heavy to carry around for long.
The CX200X makes a decent laptop. With its broad keyboard and wide track pad, and its wide-aspect 14-inch display (with a 1,280x768 native resolution), it offers more than enough room for multitasking or watching DVDs. Unfortunately, the screen picks up fingerprints easily, and its reflective surface can be a challenge when working beneath overhead lights.
To convert to tablet mode, the screen smoothly rotates around and folds flat over the keyboard; it took us a few tries to get the magnetic latch into place, but it holds the screen down securely. The smooth glass display will disappoint those seeking a pen-and-paper feel, but the CX200X's well-balanced stylus writes like a pen and proved comfortable for extended use. Over the course of a week, the tablet was able to correctly recognize about 80 percent of our writing--slightly less than the Satellite R15, which uses a more sophisticated screen digitizer.
Located around the CX200X's display are dedicated buttons for rotating the screen orientation, calling up Windows' task manager, opening the Windows Journal application for jotting notes, and making volume and brightness adjustments; there's also an innovative five-way rocker switch for navigating Web pages. We prefer the fewer buttons and the all-in-one configuration screen found on the $2,199 Motion LE1600, a slate tablet.
With four-pin FireWire, VGA, modem, Gigabit Ethernet, and three side-by-side USB ports (we'd prefer them spread out), the CX200X offers a pretty good selection of connections, especially for a tablet. There are also headphone and microphone jacks, a Type II PC Card slot, and a 7-in-1 flash card reader that can accept every popular module (except for the larger CompactFlash format); about the only thing missing is an S-Video port, as found on the Acer TravelMate C310. But while the TravelMate C310 includes a single-layer DVD burner, our CX200X came with a double-layer, multiformat DVD burner in a swappable bay; downgrading to a CD-RW/DVD-ROM takes $75 off the price. Though it lacks Bluetooth, the Gateway CX200X has an Intel 802.11b/g data radio for wireless networking.