capsule review

Gateway UC7807u

At a Glance
  • Gateway UC7807u

    PCWorld Rating

    The UC7807u is a notebook with a unique sense of style that offers good performance at a surprisingly decent price.

Gateway's UC7807u costs only $800? I'm not saying that this borderline ultraportable has the speediest parts--or that it's a featherweight (it's far from either). But the slick styling of this beaut certainly tricks you into thinking it is worth more.

It's almost as though an engineer at Gateway took a bunch of notes on what works and what doesn't from different manufacturers to put this thing together. If you look carefully, you can see a bit of HP here (the keyboard), Sony there (the hinge), and inspiration from Panasonic (the mousepad), as well.

Don't let that fool you, though. The UC7807u is a value machine through and through. Running the show: An Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 Mobile CPU (2.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2MB L2 cache) and 3GB of RAM will see you through most basic work tasks. Just don't expect to find any high-end gaming performance--the UC7807u cuts a sizable corner by rolling only with Intel's gimpy integrated GPU. Despite that, the results are better than average. Notching an 84 in PC WorldBench 6, it'll hammer through any basic business chore you can throw at it. And lasting a fairly reasonable 3 hours, 36 minutes in our battery tests, it can keep chugging along for a respectible period of time.

But it wasn't the horsepower that caught my attention at first. Rather, it was the large, flat keys. Akin to what you'll find on HP's Mini 1000 line, the UC7807u's keyboard makes touch-typing a breeze. Built solidly, it won't bow noticeably, and the multimedia touch control panel sitting above complements the controls nicely. In short, I love it. What would've been nicer: programmable shortcut keys. One odd touch, a circular touchpad, takes a little bit of practice. However, the mouse pad works nicely. Instead of two mouse buttons, you have a single bar along the bottom--pressing one end or the other registers the click you want. That doesn't mean this mouse bar couldn't be a little larger--or more clearly divide the line between a left- and right-mouse click. Sometimes, I hit too close to the center and nothing registered as a click. Not a huge deal, just something worth pointing out.

This laptop comes with other classy features. Among them: A slot-fed 8X DVD-ROM drive, HDMI-out (but with no discrete GPU? Really?), and a solidly-built, brushed aluminum plate wrapping the inside of the laptop. Heck, I even like the power button recessed into the sturdy, circular hinge. And the glossy 13.3-inch screen is reasonably sharp and crisp--save for that whole issue with glossy screens (insert your own favorite disclaimer about the fact that glossy screens look snazzy indoors but cause horrid glare in daylight).

The 1280-by-800-pixel native resolution pops well enough, but the viewing angle can be a little unforgiving. More often than not, I found myself toying with tilting the monitor's angle just to be able to see things clearly. You just might not be able to dead-lift this thing quite as easily as you'd expect. Despite having a 13.3-inch screen (a contender for the ultraportable category), the UC7807u weighs in at over 5 pounds, making it all-purpose fodder. And in the all-purpose category, the UC7807u is bound to get crushed performance-wise. The only saving grace--besides style--would have to be the bargain-basement pricing.

So what else does 800 bucks buy you? Well, its audio sounds decent, if a little (a lot) tinny with the included speakers, and it comes with the requisite ports for your basic computing needs. For those playing at home, that means three USB 2.0 ports, VGA out, headphone and mic jacks, a V.92 modem, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth support.

Software-wise, it comes bearing a relatively light load of bloatware (though you'll waste time uninstalling the demo versions of Microsoft Office). More important, though, is that this machine holds up well. The only real complaint I can level at the UC7807u is that I'd love to see a model sporting a discrete GPU in a lighter frame. If it wasn't so bulky, I'd probably chuck out my netbook and roll with this relatively affordable bad boy when I need to hit the road.

--Darren Gladstone

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The UC7807u is a notebook with a unique sense of style that offers good performance at a surprisingly decent price.

    Pros

    • Spacious keyboard and neat touchpad
    • Good, colorful screen

    Cons

    • A bit bulky for a 13.3-inch laptop
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