The Gateway M-1626 is a fixed configuration version of the manufacturer's midsize M series and is currently available through Office Depot. As with the M-1618 we reviewed last summer, we like the design of the Gateway M1626, which combines a lovely display and a comfortable keyboard inside of a relatively sleek and stylish case. We like the laptop's price tag even more: at $850, the M-1626 undercuts similarly configured Toshiba Satellite A305D ($999), Dell Inspiron 1525 ($949), and HP Pavilion dv6700z ($915) models. As with any low-cost laptop, you will have to make concessions; in the case of the Gateway M-1626, you'll have to accept merely average performance and put up with truly lousy battery life. But given the price, we think the Gateway M-1626 would work well as a student laptop or as a secondary computer--provided it stays close to a wall socket or travels with a second battery.
|Processor||2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60|
|Memory||4GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||250GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon X1270 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14x10x1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.0 / 6.8 pounds with 3-cell battery|
While other laptops in Gateway's M series come in multiple colors, the M-1626 is available only in black. Both the finish of the rubbery matte lid (reminiscent of a ThinkPad) and the brushed-metal keyboard deck are less prone to fingerprinting than the glossy finish found on other Gateway systems. The lid attaches to the base via two extrawide hinges that feel ready to take life's bumps and knocks. We like the case's rounded edges, and its 1.5-inch thickness is on the thin side of average, not to mention thinner than the HP Pavilion dv6700t.
The Gateway M-1626 features a lovely 15.4-inch wide screen with a typical 1,280x800 native resolution. We liked the look of movies and photos on the screen, which displays deep color saturation. However, we found the overly glossy screen finish distracting while surfing the Web and typing e-mail. Because this is a fixed configuration for sale in retail stores, there is not a matte-screen finish option. A 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the display lets users conduct video chats.
We love typing on the Gateway M-1626, which features a sturdy keyboard and nearly full-size keys; though the Ctrl, Alt, Windows, and Shift keys have been shortened, we were able to pound out several e-mails without typos. We like the M-1626's roomy touch pad, which is responsive and provides just the right amount of resistance, as well as its ample-size mouse buttons. Above the keyboard sit a button to launch Windows Media Center, a row of keys to control disc playback that are cut into the brushed aluminum, and a touch-sensitive slider to control volume. Handy but unobtrusive port labels on the keyboard deck let you know where to plug in peripherals.
|Gateway M-1626||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI, Webcam||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Headphone/SPDIF-out, microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Three USB 2.0, multiformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 g||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The Gateway M-1626's slender case has just enough room for the basic ports and connections, with a few curious additions. The included HDMI output is an unexpected bonus, though we're not sure how useful it will be without an accompanying high-definition optical drive. The S/PDIF-capable headphone jack is also a welcome touch, especially considering the truly pathetic sound produced by the M-1626's built-in speakers. The laptop lacks the mini-FireWire we've come to expect on a midsize laptop, though it does include a multiformat memory-card reader so you can still grab images and video from your digital camera. While other M series laptops have incorporated sleek slot-loading optical drives, the M-1626's LabelFlash DVD burner is tray-loading.
The Gateway M-1626 is a fixed-configuration, retail-only laptop that's currently available at Office Depot. The $850 price tag includes a 2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 processor, 4GB of RAM, and integrated ATI Radeon X1270 graphics. The laptop uses 64-bit Windows Vista, which lets it access the full allotment of memory; 32-bit operating systems typically cannot access more than 3GB. On CNET Labs' benchmarks, the Gateway more or less matched the performance of the similarly configured Toshiba Satellite A305D ($999), but it fell behind a $1,024 Dell Inspiron 1525 built on Intel's Core 2 Duo processor. The sole exception came during our Photoshop test, where the Gateway's generous RAM allotment helped it finish at the head of the pack. During our use, the Gateway M-1626 hung in there while we simultaneously surfed the Web, typed a Word document, and listened to a CD.
The Gateway M-1626 also posted mediocre battery scores, lasting just 1 hour and 34 minutes on our grueling DVD drain test. The Toshiba Satellite A305D held out for 20 minutes longer, and the Dell Inspiron 1525 lasted more than an hour longer than the Gateway. Our DVD drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect a slightly longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.
The Gateway M-1626 comes backed by an industry-standard one-year warranty with parts-and-labor coverage and return-to-depot service. For a reasonable $150, you can upgrade to three years of coverage. Gateway also offers 24-7, toll-free phone support during the warranty period. The company's Web site includes the expected driver downloads and FAQs, as well as the opportunity to send e-mail to a technician. Every M series laptop also comes preloaded with Gateway's BigFix diagnostic software.