Editors' note: This review is part of our, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
The Gateway NV5207u is what happens when a slow processor happens to an otherwise respectable budget-priced laptop. It's a good-looking notebook with a large screen, a decent port assortment, and a couple of extra features to sweeten the deal. But its AMD processor is a poor performer despite being dual core, and it apparently doesn't do anything for extending battery life, either.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$479.99|
|Processor||2.1GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 QL-65 Dual-Core|
|Memory||4GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon HD 3200 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WD)||14.6x9.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.8/6.6 pounds|
The lid--glossy and a sort of brownish gray that Gateway calls coffee brown--has a subtle honeycomb pattern and a small silver Gateway logo panel. It's an attractive look that's understated enough to play in both home and office environments. A large, round silver hinge opens wide to reveal the black interior, and operates smoothly.
Surrounded by a shiny black bezel is the 15.6-inch 16:9 glossy LED-backlit screen, which is comfortably large for both work and entertainment. The NV5207u'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 NV5207u 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. Above the screen is a serviceable Webcam and mic, which performed well in our informal Skype tests.
The matte-black keyboard is wide and flat and seems to have been designed by someone with small hands. It has a full number pad on the right side, which forces the touch pad off center of the screen and the entire keyboard (as typical, it's centered on the main keys). The result is a tiny palm rest on the left and a giant one on the right. Instead of two separate touch-pad buttons, Gateway used a single thin bar for left and right clicks. Larger hands will miss the bar entirely, leading to wasted presses on the chassis below the bar. Plus, all the keyboard keys are nearly flush with each other, so sloppy typists might be in for a lot of backspacing and deleting. Since this is a retail system, we strongly recommend trying it before you buy it if you can.
One of the nicer features, however, is the row of touch-sensitive keys above the keyboard. Included with standards like volume controls, turning on and off wireless, and locking the touch pad, are a programmable launch key for opening a file, folder, Web site, or application, and one that starts up software for backing up files.
|Gateway NV5207u||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, multiformat card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Modem, 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|
The Gateway NV5207u seems built to satisfy a large user group and its ports, I/O jacks, and networking options back that up. At this price it's very nice to see things like a full four USB ports split between the left and right sides, 802.11n wireless, and both VGA and HDMI outputs.
Given that the NV5207u is a retail system it's not configurable at time of purchase. However, a trip to Gateway's Web site shows this laptop available in multiple color and processor combinations. If you like the design and other features but need better performance you should pop over and check out the additional options.
Performance--even for this system's low price--is disappointing. We're placing the blame on the AMD processor and chipset because even backed by 4GB of DDR2 memory it could barely outpace a single-core Intel Celeron-based laptop with 2GB of memory. Despite being dual core, the processor is underpowered for multitasking situations. If your needs are simple (word processing, e-mail, Web surfing, basic entertainment), the NV5207u should suffice. But even streaming 480p video overtaxed the system, and photo editing proved a little tedious.
|Raw (annual kWh)||51.3|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$5.82|
The NV5207u ran for 2 hours and 2 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's fairly disappointing, but our battery drain test is very demanding, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use, which is about all this laptop is good for.
The system includes an industry standard, one-year warranty, with parts and labor coverage and return-to-depot service. Gateway offers a 24-7, toll-free, technical-support phone line, and the Web site has the usual driver downloads and FAQs, plus options for e-mailing or online chatting with technicians. While retail shops are happy to sell you an in-store extended warranty, they are often expensive and hard to use, so we don't recommend them.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)