capsule review

Gateway NX100X

At a Glance
  • Gateway NX100X Notebook (1.2GHz Core Solo U1400, 1GB DDR2, 80GB, External DVD?RW/CD-RW, Windows Vista Home Premium, 12.1" LCD)

    PCWorld Rating

Priced at $1194 (as of April 11, 2007), the Gateway NX100X is inexpensive, spiffy-looking, and lightweight (3.2 pounds, including a nice screen and keyboard). On the downside, it suffers from more than an average number of design tradeoffs, including a slow processor, meager battery life and external DVD writer. If the pocketbook rules and a basic notebook is all you need, the NX100X might be a perfectly fine choice. But if you can afford a nicer roadster, you should look elsewhere. Though the notebook itself is just 1 inch tall, its port replicator is side-connected, and when you factor in the external USB DVD writer, the whole caboodle takes up more desk real estate than any other ultraportable we looked at for our June 2007 issue's laptop roundup.

The NX100X boasts a glossy black magnesium finish, crisp white-and-blue lettering, and bright blue status lights. The matte-finish WXGA 12.1 inch screen--you can opt for glossy if you prefer--was reasonably bright and refreshingly free of glare. The notebook should satisfy most professional needs, thanks to its gigabit ethernet, 5400-rpm 80GB hard drive, FireWire port, VGA port, SD/Memory Stick slot, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless communications. The lock slot and the power port are neatly tucked away at the ends of the screen hinge. The battery forms the back of the laptop. The decision not to include a built-in optical drive left room for an extra-nice keyboard on such a small notebook. All in all, the NX100X is a breeze to use.

Performance, especially battery life, was unimpressive, however. The 1.2-GHz Core Duo U2500-equipped unit earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 45. It was slow complete tasks like burning a DVD and manipulating large photos in Photoshop CS2. Opting for 2GB of memory instead of the 1GB on our test machine would help, but that RAM upgrade from Gateway increases the system's cost by a whopping $630. On the other hand, if you upgrade later, you'll have to discard the entire 1GB of memory because the notebook has just one chip slot. It's an expensive call either way. The memory supplied with our review model would be fine for mainstream work.

The NX100X had the weakest battery in our 15-laptop roundup--a three-cell battery that expired after 1 hour, 54 minutes. But at least Gateway sells swappable battery upgrades: A six-cell option goes for $39 and a nine-cell for $70.

If you have a couple of thousand dollars to spend on an ultraportable, you can afford to get something much better than the NX100X. But if your budget is tight, this laptop is worth considering, especially if you spend most of your computing time on e-mail and word processing and don't need an optical drive constantly. This notebook is light and nice to look at, and with a battery upgrade it should be good for 3 or 4 hours away from an outlet.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This inexpensive ultraportable suffered from unimpressive battery life and WorldBench performance.

    Pros

    • Great price
    • Good keyboard and screen

    Cons

    • Short battery life
    • External optical drive
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