Gateway NX850 review: Gateway NX850

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The Good Excellent all-around performance; top-speed components; bright, sharp display; slim, relatively lightweight case; decent battery life for a desktop replacement.

The Bad No touch-pad on/off button; TV tuner is external and costs extra.

The Bottom Line The competitively priced Gateway NX850XL's decent graphics performance and big, bright screen will appeal to gamers and multimedia junkies.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 6

Gateway NX850XL

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 Toshiba Qosmio G25 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 native resolution (WSXGA+) is one of the highest we've seen, topped only by the 1,900x1,200 (WUXGA) of the Dell XPS M170. 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.

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 Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 for your operating system. (Our review unit ran on Media Center.) The NX850XL's decent software bundle includes the trimmed-down Microsoft Works 8 productivity suite, Nero Express 6 disc-burning software, and CyberLink PowerDVD 5.

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