When we reviewed the Gateway M680XL desktop replacement earlier this year, we found a lot to like: strong performance, a beautiful 17-inch display, and a slender case. But the M680XL offered middling graphics and lacked the multimedia features, such as a TV tuner, that would make it a winner with home users. The NX850XL, part of Gateway's new consumer line of laptops, has the same great design as the M680XL but adds a high-end graphics card, the Windows XP Media Center operating system, and an external TV tuner. It also adds nearly $600 to the price. For gaming and graphics work, the extra expense will be worth it; though it's not the fastest laptop on the market, the Gateway NX850XL keeps pace with some of the higher-end (and more expensive) gaming laptops we've seen.
Measuring 1.4 inches thick by 15.6 inches wide by 10.8 inches deep and weighing 8.4 pounds, the NX850XL is a bit lighter than most desktop replacements; the native resolution (WSXGA+) is one of the highest we've seen, topped only by the 1,900x1,200 (WUXGA) of the . The wide body affords plenty of room for creature comforts such as a broad keyboard, a dedicated 10-key numeric keypad, and excellent speakers. The touch pad is of decent size and has a handy vertical scroll zone, though we wish it also had a button to turn it off while you type.weighs a full pound more, and even the slim Dell XPS M170 is 0.2 pound heavier than the Gateway. With its 1.2-pound AC adapter, though, the NX850XL has a total weight of 9.6 pounds, making it appropriate only for short-distance lugging. Its 17-inch wide-screen display is as big as they get, and its 1,680x1,050
The Gateway NX850XL's thorough assortment of ports includes headphone and microphone jacks, connectors for four-pin FireWire, VGA, and S-Video, and four ports for USB 2.0. Also onboard: a Type II PC Card slot, a sweet double-layer DVD burner, and a flash card reader that recognizes Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro modules (we wish it also recognized the older SmartMedia and newer xD formats). Our $2,619 NX850XL's configuration also included a $250 Adaptec external TV tuner. The laptop lacks Bluetooth, even as an option, but it does offer Gigabit Ethernet, a modem, and an Intel 802.11b/g data radio.
You can choose either Windows XP Home Edition or for your operating system. (Our review unit ran on Media Center.) The NX850XL's decent software bundle includes the trimmed-down productivity suite, Nero Express 6 disc-burning software, and CyberLink PowerDVD 5.