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Gateway T-6330U review: Gateway T-6330U

Gateway T-6330U

Michelle Thatcher Former Senior Associate Editor, Laptops
Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Michelle Thatcher
5 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our Holiday 2008 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.


Gateway T-6330U

The Good

Lengthy battery life, particularly for the price; attractive, sturdily constructed case; beautiful display that's great for video without being too reflective; includes HDMI output and touch-sensitive media control buttons.

The Bad

Intel Pentium Dual-Core, rather than a Core 2 Duo, CPU; shallow key travel; lousy speakers.

The Bottom Line

The Gateway T-6330U's attractive case design and lengthy battery life make it a good pick for budget-minded shoppers who want a more portable midsize laptop.

The 14-inch laptop seems to be a dying breed, as manufacturers move toward slightly more portable 13.3-inch or slightly more spacious 15.4-inch screens. But as the Gateway T-6330U proves, there is still room for an affordable 14-inch laptop. A fixed configuration available at Best Buy, the T-6330U combines an attractive case design and movie-friendly display with lengthy battery life for a thoroughly decent entry-level laptop. Gateway does keep costs down by stocking the T-6330U with a less expensive Intel Pentium Dual-Core processor (rather than the expected Core 2 Duo), which may strain under heavy multitasking workloads. But its performance proved adequate for basic use, and the laptop's appealing design and feature set easily justify its $649 price. That said, if you're looking for an even lower price and can afford to tote around an extra half-pound, we suggest the $499 Acer Aspire 5735-4624.

Previous models in Gateway's T series came in multiple colors, but the Gateway T-6330U is entirely silver and black. Its glossy silver lid features a black Gateway logo in the center, and both the keyboard and keyboard deck are silver, while the touch pad and display bezel are black. The overall effect is one of subdued sophistication; the T-6330U certainly looks a bit more upscale than some of the white- or black-plastic budget laptops we've seen.

Aesthetics aside, the T-6330U feels sturdy, and we like that the lid attaches to the base via two extra-wide hinges. By virtue of its 14.1-inch screen, the laptop is also smaller and lighter than similarly priced midsize systems, such as the 15.4-inch Dell Inspiron 1525-139B. In exchange for sacrificing an inch (but no pixels) of screen size with the Gateway T-6330U, you'll save a half-pound of weight.

We really like the displays on Gateway's budget systems, and the T-6330U's 14.1-inch screen is no exception. It features a typical 1,280x800 native resolution, and it displays such rich colors that movies and photos look great. The slightly glossy finish strikes a great balance between making colors pop and keeping reflections to a minimum. (Because this is a fixed configuration for sale in retail stores, there is not a matte-screen finish option.) It all adds up to a better media experience than we'd usually expect from a laptop that costs $649.

We're slightly less enthusiastic about the keyboard on the Gateway T-6330U. It is full-size, and we were able to type without errors, but the key travel was a bit too shallow for our tastes. Typing comfort can be subjective, so we strongly suggest giving the keyboard a try before deciding to buy the T-6330U. The keyboard is framed in brushed aluminum; above the keyboard are 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 keeps things simple with the T-6330U, offering all the standard ports and connections we'd expect from a midsize laptop plus a few extras like HDMI-out and S/PDIF capability on its headphone jack. Some users might miss the mini FireWire port we've come to expect on laptops of this size, but there is a multiformat memory-card reader for transferring photos and video. Unsurprising for a laptop at this price level, the T-6330's built-in speakers produce grating, tinny sound.

The retail-only Gateway T-6330U's fixed configuration is built around a super-budget 2.0GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPU that's adequate for the most basic multitasking: Web surfing, working on office documents, and playing media files. On CNET Labs' performance benchmarks, the Gateway T-6330U was fairly evenly matched with other laptops in this price range, such as the Acer Aspire 5735-4624, and well ahead of the AMD-based Compaq CQ50-215NR.

When it comes to battery life, the Gateway T-6330U took top honors among entry-level laptops in our holiday roundup; its included six-cell battery ran for 2 hours and 42 minutes on our video playback drain test. That's an impressive score for a mainstream system, especially one priced this low. Our video playback test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

Gateway backs the T-6330U with an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, with 24-7 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 T series laptop also comes preloaded with Gateway's BigFix diagnostic software.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire 5735-4624
Compaq Presario CQ50-215NR

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire 5735-4624
Compaq Presario CQ50-215NR

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire 5735-4624
Compaq Presario CQ50-215NR

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire 5735-4624
Compaq Presario CQ50-215NR

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Acer Aspire 5735-4624
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T3200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB Intel GMA 4500MHD; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm.

Compaq Presario CQ50-215NR
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.9GHz AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-60; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8200M G; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm.

Dell Inspiron 1525-139B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T3200; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 160GB Samsung 5,400rpm.

Gateway T-6330U
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T3200; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.


Gateway T-6330U

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Battery 7Support 6