At 8.8 pounds (10.4 including the power adapter), the Gateway M675XL is one of the heaviest big-screen notebooks we've tested so far, but it includes some heavyweight features, too. First is a striking 17-inch screen that pops open when you push a sleek chrome lid release. In our tests it produced bright, sharp images at its native resolution of 1440 by 900 pixels; the display would be great for users who want to have several documents open at once. A DVD burner is located on the right side of the black-and-silver notebook, and on the left is a six-in-one multimedia card reader. (Both are removable, but Gateway offers no other add-ons for the two modular bays except a CD-ROM drive.) The keyboard has a separate numerical keypad and four user-programmable shortcut buttons, plus a separate on/off toggle for the notebook's built-in 802.11g wireless network adapter.
Four USB ports--twice the number we usually see on notebooks--reside on the back and sides of the case. All the expected connections are there as well, including a FireWire port and an S-Video-out port. The notebook's two memory slots and the hard-drive compartment are easy to access on the bottom of the case, though you do need to use a screwdriver to open them. The large battery has its own power gauge, a handy feature that saves you from having to turn on the notebook to check battery life. Unfortunately, the gauge is inexplicably hidden from view when the battery is in place, and releasing the battery from the bottom of the notebook is extremely difficult; we had to pry it out with the flat end of a screwdriver.
The notebook's stereo speakers produced fairly loud audio that sounded better to us than that of the Acer Aspire AS2003LMi, but not as good as that of the HP Pavilion Zd7000. A nice set of chrome buttons on the front panel controls music CDs.
Typical of this breed of notebook is its use of a 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor. The M675XL earned a very respectable PC WorldBench 4 score of 118. However, the processor probably does not help battery life, which was disappointing in our tests: One charge lasted just over 2 hours.
Gateway sells a $499 accessory bundle for setting up a complete workstation around the $2600 M675XL, including a simple port replicator, a wireless keyboard and optical mouse, and a 17-inch flat-panel LCD. It's a good deal if you need the display; but if you don't need it, buying the other components separately is cheaper.
The Gateway M675XL would surely thrill video enthusiasts and anyone who needs to spread out multiple documents. However, the HP Pavilion Zd7000 has better sound and costs almost $600 less.