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Gateway 3520GZ/M210 review

by dwd3885 / December 31, 2004 6:49 AM PST
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Thanks for the review...I just bought one myself!
by lb311 / January 1, 2005 9:04 AM PST

Read your review yesterday after having the same experience "stumbling across" this laptop at my local Best Buy. I was all set to buy the hp dv1000 after researching it extensively on the web, so I went to my local BB to look at it in person. As I started looking over the dv1000 (and starting to get less enthusiastic about it's durability/build quality), I happened to glance at the notebook sitting right next to it, the Gateway 3520 (m210). The screens, video displays, hard drives, CPUs, and DVD+/-RW drives were identical between the two units. Yet the Gateway was priced $250 less, and surprisingly much more durable in look and feel.

After reading your good review, and getting as much info as I could off the web, I went back to BB today to buy it.

I've now been using it for 1/2 a day and have found it an absolute delight! Right out of the box, it was super simple to get connected to my home wireless network, and within 15 minutes I was enjoying a beautiful widescreen DVD. I had initially worried about the sound quality, and agree with your assessment that the speakers on this unit are very weak. But fortunately, the sound card driver itself is pretty good-- when used with earbuds or plugged into my AV stereo receiver, it delivers very acceptable sound equal to any other current-day laptops.

I'm not sure that this unit will be any more susceptable to scratching than the HP. I purposely tried to scratch the case at the store, and was completely unable to see any marks or blemishes, so the silver finish appears to be pretty solid and far less prone to showing fingerprints and dirtmarks than the traditional matte black cases.

I really like the smooth rounded edges and clean look/placement of the accessory ports on this unit versus the dv1000. This is a very elegant looking laptop, and at only $1099, a really great deal!

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So far so good?
by Cienega32 / January 3, 2005 9:07 AM PST

This thread lead me in the direction of the Gateway unit. I was on the verge of getting a Toshiba A75 unti I read about all the static problems in these forums.

Just wondering before I fully commit to one tomorrow - still liking the Gateway? No little "gliches"?

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Bought Gateway 3520GZ, but looking at 4540GZ
by gyurcak / January 4, 2005 1:56 AM PST
In reply to: So far so good?

I bought a Gateway 3520GZ from Best Buy this weekend for my daughter who is starting college next week. I compared it to the HP Pavillion dv1040us and Compaq Presario V2030us (amongst others) and it won out on features and price. I also looked at the Gateway 4520GZ that was the same price at the time, but didn't have the Ultrabrite display or DVD+-RW. Now I see that Best Buy is advertising the Gateway 4540GZ for the same price ($1099) and it has a bigger (15.1" vs. 14.1") Ultrabrite display, a bigger (80GB vs. 60GB) hard drive, dedicated vs. shared 32MB video memory and an SD card reader. I'm considering returning the 3520GZ for the 4540GZ, but I am concerned about possible quality issues that I read about (hinges mostly). Has anyone bought the 4540GZ from Best Buy and done an initial assessment of its quality?

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You are likely subject 15% restocking fee if not defective
by KenSanramon / January 4, 2005 3:10 AM PST

If you are trying to return a notebook that is not defective you are likely subject to a 15% restocking fee. If you buy at Costco (in store models including Gateway or custom order hp/compaq or Dell models at costco.com) you have a 6 month return policy with no restocking fee.

Also, HPshopping.com gives you the custom order configuration you want for the best price (if you check out all the discounts available) and a 30 day return policy (no restocking fee and they pay the return shipping also).

You may be able to twist Best buy to get the other notebook if you return it quickly and the other model is more expensive but they are not obligated to not charge you the restocking fee if you just want another model (and that is the same for Circuit City and Comp usa)

Fry's Electronics currently does allow you to return a notebook or exchange it within 14 days (no restocking fee).

This is the perfect reason why people should be careful where they buy a notebook if they think they may in fact find a model that like better ...........

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4520 has 1M L2 cache
by Cienega32 / January 4, 2005 8:06 AM PST

but the 4540 has 2M. I believe it was Ken who detailed the speed advantages of the 715 and up M processor (which have a 2M cache).

I also notice that Best Buy doesn't show the 3xxx model any more as it was sold out anyway. Being that they picked up Gateway's inventory does that imply that when they're out - they're out for good? Or is that another one of their "on sale this week/expensive next week/on sale the week after" items?

I looked at HPshopping.com but therein lies the problem for me. I can't seem to configure what I would want to come in under $1700+. I'm not good when presented with too many options...

I would go with the extra cost for the things that I know I would like, but I need to earmark some $$ to upgrade one of my desktops.

Ken I want to thank you for the steady stream of information & education you provide us here. I've learned quite a bit about notebooks from your posts.

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Gateway and multiple Hpshopping discounts
by KenSanramon / January 4, 2005 9:41 AM PST
In reply to: 4520 has 1M L2 cache

Cienega:

that was a good cache with the 1mb L2 system cache which means it is NOT a Pentium M 715 1.5mhz which is the lowest cpu that is a Dothan.

Note that Hpshopping does not sell the 715 so the lowest Dothan is the 725 1.6 Dothan (lowest with full 2mb L2 system cache)

Best buy picked up a lot of the Gateway Country former retail stores inventory but Gateway/E-machines (merged) is a going concern (continuing company) so the current notebook models should be ongoing unless a new model comes out (and they have both Athlon 64 and Pentium M models at competitive pricing at Best buy).

Make sure you carefully look at DV1000forums.com (or X1000forums.com) for all the discounts you can use at hpshopping.com -- among these are possibly a higher rebate than what is on the order screens (see mail in rebates link at hpshopping.com homepage, a 6% APP discount if you are a college student, a 12% EPP discount if you are a qualified employer employee (my company has this), a 3% Fatcash portal discount (order through this site and get deferred 3% later -- applet window has to be left open during hpshopping purchase), and short-term coupon codes or % off offers.

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Mastering HPShopping.com
by Cienega32 / January 4, 2005 6:30 PM PST

I've been back & forth to HPS and think I'm beginning to master the site. If I approach it with a "what do I NEED to have" instead of a "that would be nice to have" state of mind I seem to be able to trim 4 or 5 hundred off...

Anyway - some questions for you, Ken:

The Brightview upgrade - is that worthwhile to have? Sounds great but it's not a feature that affects batt life, is it?

& speaking on batts - I would imagine that 2 6 cells would be better than 1 12 cell, no?

Then again, with my usage needs in mind, would the 1 12 cell be a better choice?

I don't anticipate much usage in an "untethered" environment exceeding 2 or 3 hours (hot spot internet access) outside of perhaps GPS-mapping software in the car. That aspect could be addressed with an adapter and could also charge the one batt while driving if needed, no?

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Briteview and Battery and RAM
by KenSanramon / January 5, 2005 2:53 AM PST

Are you asking whether to get 2 6 cell batteries versus 1 12 cell battery ? I have an 8 cell battery in my Compaq X1000/HPZT3000 Pentium M which is similar to the DV1000 except it has a larger screen, a dedicated ATI 9200 video card, and weighs 6.5 pounds. The battery life in that is 3.5-4 hours using wi-fi or playing DVD's or up to 5 hours using Microsoft office etc (more battery life with LCD brightness turned down and not using external optical mouse).

Since the HPDV1000 uses a 6 cell battery (2 less cells than 8 cell) I cannot tell you exaclty how much your will get but you do have a smaller LCD (14" widescreen) and the instant on DVD/CD without using the operating system also saves batteries.

The Briteview LCD is a screen treatment over the LCD itself -- you have a XGA LCD back there either way. If you will use it as a consumer the Briteview treatment makes DVD's and web pages much more vibrant (brings out contrast) but you will get much more reflection if you have a direct lightsource behind you (window) or harsh overhead lights (at workplace).

I have a non-Briteview LCD as I bought my Compaq X1000 in May 2004 and the Briteview LCD's came out in September ... I would probably have gotten it for my use mostly at home but again guage how you will use it.
If you will use it outside alot of course (if you mention the car with direct light) you may not want that.........

No, you can not hot swap the battery. You have to turn the notebook off and reboot (older more expensive notebooks had 2 slots where a battery could be placed in each and the optical drive taken out).

So, if you really want longer continuous use consider the 12 cell battery but that is going to increase the weight -- and then you could just have gotten a Compaq X1000/HPZT3000 with a 15.4" widescreen like mine with a 8 cell battery (6.5 pounds versus 5.3 for HPDV1000) and that has a more solid case as well (metal bezel surround and aluminum lid) although it does not have a remote control built in or the instant on DVD/CD

Note also your 2nd RAM slot is easily accessible by one screw under the notebook so order 256mb RAM 1 stick or 512mb RAM 1 stick and add a 512mb PC2700 notebook RAM stick for under $100 on sale after rebate later yourself (I used Kingston for 69.99 after rebate). The first RAM slot is under the keyboard and accessible but not advisable while under warranty........

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Done deal
by Cienega32 / January 5, 2005 6:21 AM PST

I went with the 12 cell. My thinking was that the extended use time would be more of a benefit to me instead of having yet one more extra thing to carry around. I don't see the extra weight being of too much concern. If I was to be going here & there or lugging it around all day, perhaps. Saves a few bucks too.

I talked to the people at HPShopping.com about that and the "Briteview". From what he explained (and you) it sounded like the extra contrast and vibrant appreance colors would be better for web graphics that I would be doing & viewing. Also digital photo review too. He explained it as a matte versus a glossy type finish on the display. Glare did come to mind but I had the image of a washed out display without. This will be a live and learn choice I guess. I think I'll run out and try to find a Briteview type unit to look at so I won't wonder too much.

No no - not hot swap the batts but hot spot for the wi-fi. Meaning I wouldn't really be away from AC power for too long and the longer, continuous usage would be a benefit. I guess if I do find myself needing another one I can order one up from somewhere. But the longer 12 cell batt is more workable than the 2x6 cell, I think (for my needs).

The memory was an interesting conversation. I was trying to get 1 stick of 512 instead of 2x256. Long story short - I got the 2x256 for $50 less than listed. Nice guy. And both sticks are user accessable anyway so for $25 more I got 512 total. SHould work out OK. Again - saved a few bucks and it won't "hurt" as much if I do go with a bigger module down the road.

The hard part is now and waiting two weeks for it. I want it NOW!!!

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Only 2nd RAM slot is user accessible(at least not voiding w)
by KenSanramon / January 5, 2005 7:28 AM PST
In reply to: Done deal

The 2nd RAM slot on the HPDV1000 and the Compaq X1000/HPZT3000 I have is easily accessible in a slot under the notebook. The 1st RAM slot requires removal of the keyboard from above to access the motherboard. While you can get to this it could violate your warranty (and some manufacturers have ways of knowing if you crack the keyboard seals).

Also, you are wasting RAM that way. You can replace RAM and the hard drive as they are under the bnotebook and have instructions on how to do so in the manual.

I would advise against cracking the keyboard to access the motherboard from the top however while in warranty (although you can see how it is done for my model at X1000forums.com)

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Not both slots?
by Cienega32 / January 5, 2005 1:31 PM PST

After surfing around I came across these reviews:

http://notebookforums.com/showthread.php?t=48558

http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=2227&p=5

and when I was talking to the sales rep this morning I had asked whether both slots were user accessable and he said yes. That was the basis for me to go with the 2x256 (at a discounted price - base plus 25).

After reading your last post I figured maybe I dealt with an overly anxious salesperson who would say yes to anything. I searched around more and found this online:

Table 1-17 (page 37) in the PDF titled:
"Maintenance and Service Guide
HP Pavilion dv1000 Notebook PC
Compaq Presario V2000 Series Notebook"
(http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c00248252.pdf)

that talks of both slots being accessable from the bottom in the same compartment.

Hopefully these sources are current and accurate. With 512M in it, I don't think I'll be too disappointed. I prefer to use 1G with XP Pro but haven't yet used XP Pro outside of a dual channel, hypre-threading environment.

I will definitly post the results of me popping the memory cover off in two weeks tho'. That and my thoughts of the Briteview.

That DirectPlay feature sounded very handy. The $15 remote was a no brainer after I read about that feature. All in all I'm glad I came in here to learn of HPShopping.com Pretty neat place!

You would not believe how overly anxious I am to get my new toy! It's been 12 hours and I'm already looking out the window for the delivery truck... sad.

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HP rep at best buy -1 slot underneath but you may be right
by KenSanramon / January 6, 2005 3:40 AM PST
In reply to: Not both slots?

I actually went into a Best Buy store and asked a Best buy rep whether the HPDV1000 series (and Compaq V2000 sister series would be the same) only has 1 RAM slot under the notebook easily accessible as the HPZT3000/Compaq X1000 I have has.

He said yes, there is 1 slot underneath and the other is under the keyboard (accessible but not advisable while under warranty as I stated).

If in fact the 2 RAM slots are under the notebook that is great for you as I in fact did not get to open the slot and I own the X1000 as I said (which has only 1 RAM slot underneath for sure).

Again, however, if you get 2 sticks of RAM your slots are full whether they are accessible or not so the best value is to order 256mb 1 stick and add 512mb later yourself or 512mb 1 stick if you think you might want to go to 1gb later (as I did but when I purchased I thought I had 2x256 but it turns out I did not).

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dv1000 discuss moved to "dv1000 (weaned from other thread)
by Cienega32 / January 4, 2005 10:06 PM PST

I didn't want to hi-jack the Gateway review topic!

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Thanks dwd3885 - a question since you looked into Fujitsus
by allpixels / January 5, 2005 7:14 AM PST

Hi-

Excellent review of your new Gateway. It looks like a terrific machine, especially at that price!

I was thinking of getting the Fujitsu s6231 (the 13.3" screen) or the Fujitsu s7000 (14.1" screen). I haven't handled either one of these computers or seen them & was just wondering if you had.

These are both in my price range (although what you got for your $ in the Gateway is awesome) - I'm going for the Fujitsu because I'm a photographer and would really like to get one of their Crystal View displays.

If so, do you know if it's better to go with their integrated touch pad and Quick Point, or just the touch pad alone? I've never seen it but I like the way the ThinkPad has a touch point & pad.

Any other advice you can share would be great.

Thanks,

Jeff

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Crystal view/Trubrite, Briteview, Xbrite all similar for LCD
by KenSanramon / January 5, 2005 7:31 AM PST

Note that Fujitsu Crystal view is a LCD screen treatment that increases contrast and it is very similar to Trubrite on Toshiba, Xbrite on Sony (the original) and Briteview on HP/Compaq.

Don't buy the Crystal view on Fujitsu for that alone. If you can live with integrated video they do make quality notebooks (in Japan still supposedly) but for price range you can get a notebook with dedicated video or spend less on one with shared video.

They are retail at Fry's Electronics on the west coast

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Thanks Ken - I plan to wait a bit as you know - but...
by allpixels / January 5, 2005 7:35 AM PST

At this point its either get dedicated video (I think you suggested HP and Dell for this) or wait on the New Centrino M chips for better shared RAM).

I know you've written it before recently, but what are 3 or 4 notebooks that I could consider right *now* that have the dedicated ram that you recommend?

I could get something in the 5 - 7 pound range - and even though it seems like I'm decided on Fujitsus, I really can be flexible.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge,

Jeff

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Pentium M notebooks with dedicated video RAM
by KenSanramon / January 5, 2005 8:47 AM PST

Supposedly at some point in 2005 integrated video (shared - chip on motherboard) will be advanced to the point that dedicated video is no longer necessary for all but hard core gamers).

But we are not at that point right now definitely although as I said Intel has announced improved video for its Sonoma Centrinos coming out very soon.

Since you are not a hard core gamer 64mb dedicated video is offered on quite a few quality Pentium M notebooks (128mb dedicated is only offered on the Dell 8600, Acer 2025 - if you can find one, and a few others).

The HPZT3000/Compaq X1000 I have offers 64mb dedicated video, it is 6.5 pounds with a 15.4" widescreen, and it even has 3 LCD resolutions if you order custom online (XGA, SXGA or UXGA).. XGA is offered with Briteview that is similar to Crystal view see X1000forums.com for details about the notebook and best discounts at hpshopping.com

If you want a smaller notebook LCD (14") the HPDV1000 has that but it only has shared video memory (5.3 pounds). But both this and the HPZT3000/Compaq X1000 can be ordered for under $1,500 easily and in some cases even below $1300...

The IBM T42 does have the dedicated video at about 5.5 pounds.

Look at the Dell 8600 which is pricey with the 128mb dedicated ATI 9600 but you can get 64mb dedicated also.

You want the Pentium M 715 1.5 or higher (HP starts at Pentium M 725 1.6) to get the full 2mb L2 system cache of the Dothan line for best performance.

Finally, Gateway has some very competitive Pentium M and Athlon 64 notebooks at best buy (but check which ones have dedicated video or not).

Finally, since you seem to be on the fence whether you need dedicated video or not (but it sounds like the upgraded Sonoma Pentium M notebook video might be enough for you) note that Fry's Electronics has a 14 day return policy with no restocking fee if you can buy a Fujitsu there (western US only) or Costco retail stores and Costco.com (can order hp/Compaq or Dell custom at website) has a 6 month return policy.

This gives you peace of mind to actually try out the keyboard, the video performance, etc -- I actually took advantage of this myself when I initially got a Pentium 4M shared video Compaq refurbished from Costco (ran find but horrible battery life and the video lagged at times) and based on my research then I got the Compaq X1000 series......

Most other retail stores are 14 days return with a restocking fee (hpshopping.com direct is 30 days return no restocking fee and they pay the shipping but don't submit the UPC code for the rebate early or you can't return it).

Finally, the Toshiba M35/M30 series had an outstanding model with Nvidia 64mb dedicated video in the past (15.4", 6.2 pounds) but most retail models now are shared video only (check their website)

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One of the reasons...
by dwd3885 / January 5, 2005 12:35 PM PST

One of the reasons why I didn't get Fujitsu was that I couldn't see it in person. The only way I could get ahold of one would be to order it online, we have no Fry's where I live. And I just had to be able to physically see the laptop first. If I had seen it, I'd probably get the Fujitsu, just because it's build quality is second to IBM, the screen is 13.3, which is just right and the screen. But if you must see your laptop purchase in person, then get the Gateway, that's what I did.

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