capsule review

Gateway CX200

At a Glance
  • Gateway CX200

    PCWorld Rating

    A heavy tablet but great notebook, the CX200 would be a good choice for sometime tablet users.

Gateway CX200
Photograph: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

The CX200 Tablet PC boasts a beautiful swiveling touch screen in a wide 14.1-inch format--the first such tablet wide screen, according to Gateway. The screen makes for a very nice notebook, leaving room for a large keyboard and an integrated optical drive. On the downside, wide-screen displays make awkward tablets--I found myself scrolling horizontally a lot when holding the CX200 like a notepad. This unit is also very heavy for a tablet, weighing 7 pounds with its high-capacity battery (a $44 option we tested). At least the way the battery extends out allows the battery to double as a grip, which helps when you tote the tablet around.

The CX200 starts at $1099, which is cheaper than any other currently available convertible Tablet PC. But because of its weight, I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of money on a loaded version like the $1905 unit I looked at; you can get much lighter tablets for the same money, if not with the same processor. The $1099 model of this tablet with a Celeron processor and a CD burner would make a nice introductory unit for people who aren't yet sure how they feel about writing on a screen.

Aside from being too heavy to carry for long, the CX200 is a nice tablet. The screen unfailingly registered my stylus taps and handwriting. It seems prone to smudges, but the included cleaning cloth wipes off fingerprints in a jiffy.

The CX200's design is not as slick as some tablets. For instance, many models have a stylus that easily springs up from its holder, but the CX200 has a separate bottom release. Also, this unit's on-screen picture does not automatically rotate when you reorient the screen from landscape to portrait and vice versa. But the tablet buttons are conveniently located and include a multi-mode control that changes volume or scrolling. Two other nice bonuses are a power button lock and a BIOS-level option to activate a missing-pen alarm. The latter is a polite beep that sounds when you turn off the CX200 without returning the stylus to its holder.

Nicely designed as a notebook, too, the CX200 includes audio ports and a three-in-one memory card reader conveniently located on the front, with three USB ports and a high-speed FireWire port on the left. Sound is weak, but DVD movies looked great on the wide screen. The same battery that makes such a good tablet grip gives the keyboard a comfortable ergonomic typing slant.

The CX200 is fairly expandable, with upgradable memory and storage, one PC Card slot, and a left-side set of pins for Gateway's $179 port replicator. Given the docking stations some companies sell for their tablets, however, a replicator that attaches by cable is not very elegant, but it's better than nothing.

Speed was good in general, but compared with other 2.13-GHz Pentium M 770-equipped notebooks with 1GB of RAM, the CX200's WorldBench 5 score of 86 was so-so. A larger, similarly configured laptop we tested earned a better score--97.

The CX200's 3-hour battery life was also a little disappointing considering the high-capacity battery we tested with. Using two batteries at once is possible by removing the optical drive, but we didn't try this configuration.

Although a very heavy tablet, the CX200 can be among the least expensive available and a good notebook. Go for the $1099 configuration (plus the $44 high-capacity battery); much lighter tablets are available on the high end.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A heavy tablet but great notebook, the CX200 would be a good choice for sometime tablet users.

    Pros

    • Nice widescreen for a tablet

    Cons

    • Pricey and heavy
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