Gateway T-6828 review: Gateway T-6828

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The Good Inexpensive; attractive, sturdily constructed case; beautiful display that's great for video without being too reflective; performance mostly matches that of more expensive models; respectable battery life; lengthy warranty.

The Bad Red color isn't for everyone; case finish easily picks up fingerprints and smudges; stiff keyboard; lousy speakers.

The Bottom Line The 14.1-inch Gateway T-6828 offers the same performance and features as similar models from Dell and Toshiba, at a lower price. However, we recommend you try the T-6828's keyboard before making a buying decision.

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6.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 7
  • Support 7

Most low-priced laptops are bulky midsize systems with 15.4-inch screens. But the Gateway T-6828 offers a slightly more portable thin-and-light form factor with a 14.1-inch screen that's still comfortable enough for a full day of work. Aside from portability, the $799 T-6828 offers a beautiful display and performance that matches more expensive laptops, all wrapped up in an attractive, glossy, red package. Our primary complaint about the T-6828 is its keyboard, which to us felt flat and stiff; we recommend giving the board a try before making a purchasing decision. If the keyboard doesn't bother you, there's no reason not to purchase the Gateway T-6828, especially considering that it costs less than a similarly configured Dell Inspiron 1420 and Toshiba Satellite M305.

Price $799
Processor 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550
Memory 3GB of 667MHz
Hard drive 250GB at 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel 965 Express
Graphics Intel GMA X3100 (integrated)
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
Dimensions (WDH) 13x9.8x1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.5 / 6.3 pounds
Category thin-and-light

The laptops in Gateway's T series come in multiple colors, depending on where they're sold. Our Gateway T-6828, currently available exclusively at Costco, features a garnet red lid and wrist rest with a black display bezel and silver keyboard. We love the sassy red, even as we acknowledge that it's not for everyone. Our only quibble is that the glossy case finish is particularly prone to fingerprints; after handling the laptop a few times the lovely red lid was marred with plenty of smudges. Aesthetics aside, the T-6828 feels sturdy, and we like that the lid attaches to the base via two extra-wide hinges.

We really like the displays on Gateway's budget systems, and the T-6828'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 $799.

We're less enthusiastic about the keyboard on the Gateway T-6828. It is full-size, and we were able to type without errors, but the nearly flat-topped keys offer a bit more resistance than we found comfortable. But typing comfort can be subjective, so we strongly suggest giving the keyboard a try before deciding to buy the T-6828. 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 T-6828 Average for thin-and-light category
Video VGA-out, Webcam VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Speakers, headphone/ microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, multiformat memory card reader 3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard PC Card or ExpressCard
Networking modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

Gateway keeps things simple with the T-6828, offering just the basics when it comes to ports and connections. 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-6828's built-in speakers produce grating, tinny sound.

The $799 price tag includes a previous-generation, 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 CPU plus 3GB of RAM and integrated Intel graphics. On CNET Labs' benchmarks, the Gateway matched or bested a number of similarly configured, 14.1-inch laptops, including a $1,049 Toshiba Satellite M305-S4826 based on Intel's Penryn-class Core 2 Duo T8100 processor. The only exception is our iTunes encoding test, which is largely a function of clock speed; the Gateway's 1.83GHz CPU finished well behind the Toshiba's 2.1GHz processor. But for typical multitasking use--Web surfing, office documents, media viewing, and so on--both laptops are fine performers, with no slowdown or stuttering.

On our DVD battery drain test, the Gateway T-6828 lasted 2 hours, 19 minutes. That's about what we'd expect from a thin-and-light laptop, and it's quite respectable for such a low-cost system. Our DVD drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

We were pleasantly surprised by the Gateway T-6828's two-year warranty, which is twice as long as the industry standard. 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 T series laptop also comes preloaded with Gateway's BigFix diagnostic software.

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