I’ve simply completed a day on the Gateway 14, some of the talked-about laptops within the funds Home windows house. And folk… I’m very impressed.
We purchased this at Walmart for $279 (discounted from $360 because it’s a pair generations previous), and sure, it has the legendary cow spots on its lid. The Gateway model from the Nineties that everyone knows and love is now licensed by Acer and has grow to be a Walmart-exclusive model. The cow moos on. Mooooo.
The mannequin I’ve been utilizing consists of an Intel Core i5-1135G7 (a chip that powered lots of 2020’s most premium ultraportable units, together with the Samsung Galaxy E book, the Acer Swift 5, the Dell XPS 13, and the Lenovo Yoga 9i). There’s 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. For $279, that’s a really stable deal and doubtless near the very best specs you will get for that value. The most important compromise is a mediocre touchpad, however that’s mitigated by a sturdy port choice that ought to permit you to plug in a mouse with no drawback.
The chassis can be the sturdiest and best-built one I’ve ever seen from a Home windows laptop computer, with no flex within the keyboard or display screen and spectacular fingerprint rejection. There’s even an empty drive slot on the underside (mounted with two screws), so you may stick in nevertheless a lot storage you want. Oh, and it’s blue. Blue! How enjoyable is that? Gateway additionally put the little Microsoft and Intel stickers on the underside of the system, so the palm rests are a totally untarnished blue. It’s a pleasant, daring look. I approve.
I opened the Gateway up simply earlier than 9AM to start out work. It shipped with actual Home windows, not S-mode. I seen instantly that there was a lot of stuff preinstalled. A few of it was useful — I didn’t should obtain Spotify! — however there have been additionally video games like Solitaire pinned to the taskbar, in addition to some backends to browser video games like Forge of Empires and Elvenar on the desktop. Within the identify of Marie Kondo, I cleared all of that out.
It was a reasonably uneventful morning and afternoon; I principally spent it writing in Chrome, with round a dozen tabs open and Spotify often streaming within the background. At first, it appeared a bit laggy, and this was apparently as a result of it actually, actually wanted to be up to date (the unit has been sitting round in our evaluate closet for a bit since its buy). I attempted to place this off as a result of I’m a procrastinator that method, however the system ultimately took issues into its personal fingers: it froze, crashed, and started updating itself. Truthful sufficient. I suppose I deserved that.
As soon as the replace was sorted, I resumed my workload. And reader, the Gateway is quick. It sailed by way of the day with out breaking a sweat. I didn’t as soon as hear a single decibel of fan noise; I might make out a teensy little bit of coil whine if I put my ear to the keyboard, however that was it. Efficiency was visibly smoother and quicker than that of our slightly-more-expensive HP 14 unit, which has a weaker processor and 1 / 4 of the Gateway’s RAM. I additionally barely favor the Gateway’s display screen, which is 1920 x 1080 and simply has a little bit of a extra fashionable look to it. I used to be working at 20 to 30 p.c brightness indoors with no glare.
Audio was tinny, with weak percussion and no bass, however had respectable quantity to it, and I might definitely hear higher than I might on the HP 14. The microphones, then again, are practical however not excellent — we examined them on The Vergecast (in, admittedly, a really unfavorable surroundings), so take a look at that episode to listen to what they sound like firsthand.
I began the day with the Gateway totally charged, and the unit nearly made it by way of the complete day unplugged, dying within the late afternoon across the seven-and-a-half-hour mark. That solidly beats the HP 14, in addition to… fairly a couple of dearer Home windows laptops I’ve examined just lately. I’ll take it.
My post-work exercise was the Gateway’s final check. I spent the night engaged on a manuscript and researching potential brokers to submit that manuscript to. This was an concerned affair, and I had in all probability 40-50 Chrome tabs open — lists of varied companies, their necessities, their blogs, and different such issues — and I used to be resizing, swapping, and clicking out and in of all of them very quick. No hassle for the Gateway, which zipped by way of all of it.
I additionally had an entire bunch of my very own Google Docs open, together with the manuscript itself, which was effectively over 300 pages. I’ve to watch out which computer systems I open this doc on as a result of Docs information of this dimension get very unwieldy and sluggish very quick. This was additionally no hassle for the Gateway 14, which loaded the entire thing about as rapidly as any Home windows laptop I’ve ever used and by no means as soon as froze or lagged whereas enhancing it.
The Gateway’s keyboard isn’t backlit, however I really had no drawback engaged on it late into the night time with my lights dimmed. The intense white textual content in opposition to the darkish black keys offered sufficient distinction that I might make out what I wanted to at midnight. I really a lot favor this expertise to that of utilizing laptops which might be backlit however not very effectively (which is usually what you get in the event you purchase a backlit system on this value vary).
Now, there may be one vital draw back that did maintain me up. This is among the worst touchpads I’ve ever used. The scale shouldn’t be a problem; it feels roomier than the tiny one on the HP 14. Nevertheless, the clicking could be very troublesome. You actually should shove the factor down. It’s fairly loud and appears like a chore. I’m additionally not fairly positive what was occurring with the actuation factors, however there have been occasions after I would click on in a sure space at a sure angle and really feel like I used to be clicking a number of occasions.
However most annoyingly, clicking and dragging doesn’t fairly work. There appeared to be a tough cap on how a lot textual content I might spotlight earlier than the touchpad simply determined it was finished; it additionally took many makes an attempt to focus on as click-and-drag makes an attempt, which actually screwed up my manuscript enhancing course of.
Now, on a laptop computer that’s even barely dearer, this challenge could be sufficient to tank the Gateway’s rating. I’m barely extra forgiving of it on this sub-$300 laptop computer as a result of the intensive port choice (additionally higher than the HP 14’s) will make it very simple to plug a mouse into it. Specifically, the truth that there are USB-A ports on each side will make it fairly handy to stay peripherals in, no matter which hand you utilize your mouse with. I don’t use peripherals when reviewing laptops, however you need to plan to maintain a mouse helpful in the event you purchase this. (There’s additionally a lock slot, an HDMI (unusually upside-down, however nonetheless), a USB-C, a microSD (!), and a headphone jack.)
Given the truth that my two greatest points, the touchpad and the microphones, can each be solved by exterior peripherals, I actually didn’t have an excessive amount of to complain about right here. If you happen to don’t already personal a mouse or microphone and might want to purchase them, this system could lose a few of its worth — but when you have already got them readily available (or simply received’t be needing to make use of the Gateway for video calls too typically), I actually suppose this is among the greatest offers you can see on a Home windows laptop computer. Even with its issues, this looks like it might simply be (no less than) a number of hundred bucks dearer. Plus, it’s blue! Did I point out it’s blue?
I’m so severe after I say I’m really pondering of shopping for considered one of these for myself. Come on — it’s blue!