Gateway NX100 review: Gateway NX100

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The Good Very low price for such a lightweight laptop; extremely portable; sleek design; wide, 12.1-inch display; 5-in-1 media card reader.

The Bad Lacks built-in optical drive; few multimedia controls; some configurations lack business-level security features; unremarkable battery life.

The Bottom Line Home and business users seeking an inexpensive, if basic, ultraportable will be pleased with the well-designed Gateway NX100X.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5
  • Battery 5
  • Support 6

For its first ultraportable model since 2002, Gateway has taken a page from Apple's design handbook; with a sleek black case, brushed-aluminum details, and dark blue status lights, the NX100X looks like a minimalist's dream laptop. That minimalism extends to features as well; among other omissions, the NX100X forgoes the built-in optical drive found on higher-priced competitors, such as the Fujitsu LifeBook P7120, and the more robust security features found on the business-friendly Lenovo ThinkPad X60s (though some security features can be found on Gateway's identical business-focused model, the E-100M). But the NX100X's $1,625 price is many hundreds of dollars less than those fully loaded models from Fujitsu and Lenovo and slightly cheaper than an almost identically configured Dell Latitude X1. If you're looking for an extremely portable and stylish laptop and can do without a built-in optical drive or security features, the Gateway NX100X is a solid, economical choice.

At just less than an inch thick, the NX100X bears a striking resemblance to the anorexic Toshiba Portege R200, though the NX100X, at 3.2 pounds, is nearly half a pound heavier. Measuring 11.4 inches wide and 8.9 inches deep, the NX100X also runs a bit wider and deeper than the LifeBook P7120 (which manages to squeeze in an optical drive) as well as the ThinkPad X60s and the Latitude X1 (which do not). Nevertheless, NX100X's slender build looks extremely elegant, and even with its 0.8-pound AC adapter, it feels rather lightweight.

The NX100X features a 12.1-inch wide-screen display (the same size as the Latitude X1's) with a 1,280x800 native resolution. Though that finer resolution means text appears smaller than it does on the ThinkPad X60s's standard-aspect display, we liked having enough screen space to open multiple windows side by side. During our use, images looked crisp, though text looked faintly blurry; even on its lowest setting, the display seemed fairly bright. The wider screen also means there's a little more room for the keyboard; the NX100X's keys, with the exception of the stunted spacebar, are large for an ultraportable--although their shallow travel means typing is not as comfortable as it is on the ThinkPad X60s. Like many ultraportables, the NX100X's touch pad and mouse buttons are small but functional; left-handed mousers should note that the right button is a bit smaller than the left button. The system lacks a dedicated scroll button, but the touch pad does have an unmarked scroll function. While other laptops include external volume controls and Wi-Fi on/off switches, the NX100X's simple case design affords only a power button above the keyboard.

The NX100X keeps it simple when it comes to ports and connections, too: you get VGA, four-pin FireWire, and two side-by-side USB 2.0 ports (most laptops, including the LifeBook P7120 and the ThinkPad X60s, offer at least three), as well as headphone and microphone jacks. There's also a Type II PC Card reader--though no support for ExpressCards--as well as a 6-in-1 media card slot that supports Secure Digital, Mini Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and xD formats. Networking connections include modem, Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi; Bluetooth is available as an option. Though the NX100X lacks a built-in optical drive, our review unit's price included an external DVD burner that connects via USB. The NX100X also lacks business-level security features, such as a fingerprint reader and a Trusted Platform Module--though the latter is available as an option on Gateway's identical E-100M model. The NX100X's software bundle includes Microsoft Windows XP Professional, the Microsoft Works 8 mini suite, and apps for viewing and burning discs.

For its $1,625 price, the Gateway NX100X we tested included a raft of average components for an ultraportable: a 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo ultra-low voltage processor, 512MB of 533MHz RAM, an 80GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm, and integrated Intel graphics that borrow up to 128MB of system memory. It was no surprise that the NX100X's single-core processor trailed far behind the ThinkPad X60s's Core Duo processor on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks. We were disappointed (though again, not surprised) to see that the NX100X scored exactly the same on the MobileMark test as the Latitude X1 and the Fujitsu LifeBook P7120, both of which are based on previous-generation Pentium M processors. Nevertheless, the NX100X should offer ample power to run typical personal and business applications, such as e-mail clients, Web browsers, word processors, and spreadsheet programs.

The NX100X's 3-hour, 6-minute battery life was merely average, outlasting the Latitude X1 by only 4 minutes and trailing well behind the LifeBook P7120 we tested, which had a larger battery.

The Gateway NX100X includes an industry-standard one-year mail-in warranty; an upgrade to three years costs $149. Gateway offers 24/7 toll-free technical support during the warranty period, and the company's support Web site includes the expected driver downloads and FAQs, as well as the opportunity to e-mail or chat live with a technician.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:

Dell Latitude X1
Windows XP Professional; 1,100MHz Intel Pentium M ULV 733; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Intel i915GM/GMS Express (up to 128MB); Toshiba MK6006GAH 60GB 4,200rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook P7120
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M ULV 753; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Toshiba MK6006GAH 60GB 4,200rpm

Gateway NX100X
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo U1400; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz; Intel 945GM Express 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 80GB 5,400rpm

Lenovo ThinkPad X60s
Windows XP Professional; 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo T2400; 512MB PC5300 DDR2 SDRAM 666MHz; Intel Mobile i945GM Express 128MB (8MB shared); Toshiba MK8032GSX 80GB 5,400rpm