The Good Low price; discrete graphics; attractive, minimalist design; 16:9 screen perfect for HD movies; backlit keyboard; handy light-touch media controls; recessed touch pad.
The Bad Key travel is shallow; lacks Blu-ray drive; lagged behind similarly configured systems on Photoshop benchmark.
The Bottom Line With an HD-friendly 16-inch screen, beautiful design, and dedicated graphics, the affordably priced Gateway MC7803u makes an excellent portable entertainment center, provided your HD content is not on a Blu-ray Disc.
With the exception of lid color, the Gateway MC7803u looks identical to the MC7801u we reviewed earlier this month. Both 16-inch laptops feature Gateway's attractive new case design, complete with glowing light-touch media controls. And both incorporate an edge-to-edge glass display that's great for enjoying HD video content. But once you look inside the case, the two laptops differ in a few key ways. First, the MC7803u includes a discrete graphics card with 512MB of memory, which should up its appeal to casual gamers. And second, the MC7803u incorporates an eight-cell battery that helps offset the power-hungry graphics and provides nearly 30 minutes more computing time than the MC7801u. (It's worth noting that, while the larger battery does add some weight to the system, it does not give the laptop a larger footprint.)
The best part? These enhancements come at the premium of just $50, bringing the Gateway MC7803u's price to $999. That's quite a deal compared with other media-oriented laptops on the market, such as the $1,299 Sony Vaio FW270J/W. To get to the lower price, the company did make some small economic concessions: first, despite the HD-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio and HDMI-out port, the MC7803u does not include a Blu-ray Disc drive. (The Vaio FW270J/W, on the other hand, does.) Second, Gateway has bypassed Intel's latest Centrino 2 processors, instead equipping the MC7803u with a previous-generation Core 2 Duo CPU that fell a bit behind on some of our performance benchmarks. Still, the Gateway MC7801u's smart looks, 16:9 display, and low price make it a good choice for movie fans who do not rely on Blu-ray Discs.
Get a Lenovo N22 Chromebook for $129
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Holiday deal roundup
It's time to deal so check back often to see what the latest offers are. But don't wait; many of these are limited-time and limited-quantity offers. And if you see a deal that you feel is worthy, drop us a note and we'll do our best to add it to the list.
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