These days, perfectly usable laptops can be had for a song, particularly if the laptop being shopped for is a modest midrange model. In what's becoming a trend, Gateway's NV5897u debuts as yet another midsize, decently spec'd Core 2 Duo laptop in a frame that's not too bulky, but certainly won't be confused for a Netbook anytime soon.
Since Gateway and Acer have merged, Gateway survives largely as a familiar brand providing a variation on Acer's offerings. In the case of the NV5807u, the result is worth noting because the cost is as good as we've seen for what it offers. At $599, it's priced to be an impulse upgrade for someone who's already considering a Netbook, which are ranged anywhere from $300-$500 these days. If a larger screen, true multitasking, and good all-around performance are what you're after, then it's hard to beat the Gateway NV5807u in terms of bang for your buck.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$599|
|Processor||2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500|
|Memory||4GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel GM45 + ICH9|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium SP1|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.6x9.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.76/6.58 pounds|
Priced at the top of Gateway's style-conscious NV range, the NV5807u configuration shares the same design as its NV siblings. The lid, glossy and dark blue, has a subtle honeycomb pattern and a small silver Gateway logo panel. A large, round silver hinge opens wide to reveal the black interior, and operates smoothly. The interior of lid is glossy, with curved edges. The thick round hinge also houses the Kensington lock and power button on either side, as we've seen on certain Sony Vaio models.
Large matte wrist rests give ample space below the nearly edge-to-edge flat keyboard. Although the keys are closely spaced together, with the space bar made slightly shorter than normal, to fit in the adjoining number pad (not normally a feature on 15-inch laptops), the matte key surfaces feel comfortable and typing was smooth and responsive.
Above the keyboard, a small row of LED-backlit touch controls trigger MyBackup software, an energy-reducing Power Save mode, as well as on/off controls for Wi-Fi, touch pad, mute, and volume. The touch pad doesn't have multitouch support, but the wide-aspect surface has a comfortable feel and size, perhaps running a little smaller than we'd ideally prefer. The touch pad buttons, though, are awkward: a single mirrored bar below the pad can be clicked on either side, but the bar is too thin, long, and strangely placed (the edges lay lower the palm rests instead of rising above) to be found easily when typing, making it more attractive than functional.
In terms of overall chassis size and weight, it's close to the Sony Vaio NW series. We prefer the NW's design, but the NV has an appealing, more muted look, and is particularly impressive considering its bargain price.
The 15.6-inch 16:9 glossy LED-backlit screen feels very large and nearly goes edge-to-edge on the inner lid. Inset from the black glossy plastic that surrounds it, the glare isn't as bad as other fully edge-to-edge glass screens. The NV5807's screen has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which is standard for a screen this size. In anecdotal streaming video viewing, the picture was very good but not the brightest or crispest we've seen. While the Gateway NV5807u boasts Dolby sound, the volume from the built-in speakers was audible but not booming, placing it in the middle of the pack as far as built-in audio goes.
A Webcam and microphone lie above the screen for online chat and video conferencing.
|Gateway NV5807u||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA and HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The selection of ports is great for a laptop this size and price, although it lacks an ExpressCard slot. An HDMI port, a generous four USB 2.0 ports, SD card reader, VGA-out, along with Ethernet and a modem jack round out the set. Internally, the NV5807u has both Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. It's good to see that Gateway didn't skimp on either.
While NV configurations are available at Gateway with AMD Athlon, Turion, or Intel Core 2 Duo processors, the NV5807u is listed as a retail configuration with fixed specs that includes a Core 2 Duo processor, a 320GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM. It's available at retailers including Amazon.com.
The 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 processor is one we've seen in several other manufacturer's laptops in this price range, including the Toshiba Satellite A505-S6960, the Dell Studio 1440-022B, and the HP Pavilion dv4-1465dx, as well as the recently reviewed Sony Vaio NW160J.The NV5807u, however, is the most affordable laptop in this range. The T6500 is perfectly good for any basic multitasking or multimedia work, video or music viewing, or office work, as well as Web browsing. The included graphics capability doesn't give this any gaming muscle, but basic casual games play fine (we also enjoyed some Quake Live on it).