Sold as an affordable media-friendly laptop with an eye toward design, Gateway's 14-inch TC7804u offers a decent collection of features and components at a low-end price.
Similar to the 15-inch MD7818u model we reviewed back in January, the TC7804u includes 4GB of RAM, a large hard drive, and a wide-screen 16:9 display, making it feel like a more expensive machine.
Still, we missed a few useful extras, such as Bluetooth and HDMI, and its touch-sensitive media controls looked better than they worked. As an aside, Gateway's convoluted naming system for laptops is still a mystery to us.
|Price as reviewed||$699|
|Processor||2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400|
|Memory||4GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Intel GM45 Express|
|Graphics||Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions (WD)||13.4x9.5 inches|
|Height||1.0 - 1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.3 pounds|
At first glance, Gateway has achieved high style: the muted cover (burgundy on our review unit, black in the final version) with its slightly chromed racing stripe is appealing, and on the inside, the alongside-the-keyboard backlit touch-sensitive media controls seem like features from a higher-end machine.
The physical feel, however, is bulky. Weighing more than 5 pounds, the laptop feels thicker than other models on the market--although the solid base and weighting are nice when typing on a desk. The keyboard's response and clickiness are pleasant, and feel good during extended typing sessions. The brushed Mylar palm-rest was also comfortable, but the touch pad--while responsive--is too small. It's wide, but short, so vertical mousing is difficult.
While we like the look of the touch-sensitive media controls on a panel next to the keyboard, the volume slider was particularly finicky and generally unresponsive. It's an issue with almost every touch-control volume slider we've seen, and simple volume up/down buttons, or even a volume wheel, work better.
The built-in speakers, hidden behind the keyboard and under the screen, were fine in normal listening conditions; however, they didn't get very loud or have much heft. We'd stick to headphones or external speakers instead.
The 14-inch wide-screen LCD offers a 1,366x768 native resolution, which is standard for a 16x9 screen this size. Pictures and text were clear and easy to read, and the glossy screen's reflectivity was minimized by being inset slightly, a smart choice by Gateway. The resolution and aspect ratio are well suited for 720p HD content.
|Gateway TC7804u||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks, S/PDIF||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0 (1 USB/eSATA), SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Having USB ports on either side of the keyboard made plugging in peripherals easy, and the ports are decently spaced. However, it would have been nice to see HDMI and Bluetooth make it into this model--not having either limits its multimedia appeal somewhat.
The TC7804u's 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor is speedy enough for basic computer tasks and handles media well, as one would expect. Streaming Web video, even in HD, flows smoothly and looks good on the 16x9 screen. The similarly configured Asus X83VB-X2, with the same T6400 CPU, performed nearly identically in our benchmark tests.