Gateway NV5933u: Great for Blu-ray Movies, but Not for Games
At a Glance
Gateway NV5933u Notebook
The Gateway NV5933u makes a great portable Blu-ray Disc player--complete with a computer.
If you're looking for a portable multimedia machine, the Gateway NV5933u--which features an Intel Core i3 processor and a Blu-ray Disc player--might be for you. This 15.6-inch all-purpose laptop multitasks with ease, and it even has a number pad next to its big, flat keyboard. Our review model, priced at a modest $649 (as of June 3, 2010), came with a 2.13GHz Intel Core i3-330M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a 15.6-inch 1366-by-768-pixel display, and Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit). The system also has a built-in Webcam and microphone, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and--perhaps its biggest selling point--a 4X Blu-ray Disc/DVD-Super Multi double-layer drive.
The NV5933u's design is neither here nor there. The laptop is a little bulky at 1.46 inches thick (and 14.66 inches long by 10.19 inches wide), and decently portable at 5.84 pounds, but the chassis feels solid and sturdy.
The glossy red cover features a mesmerizing honeycomb design and a thin, mirrored strip with the Gateway logo. The bevel surrounding the screen is glossy as well, while the keyboard, touchpad, and palm rest are matte. The hinge is thick and has the power button on one side--an interesting (and somewhat hard to find) place for the power button. A glossy strip of touch-sensitive buttons sits above the keyboard, with dedicated buttons for Wi-Fi, backup, and volume control.
The ports on the NV5933u are pretty basic (the system has no eSATA or Express Card slots), but they will probably satisfy most users. Included are four USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, an HDMI port, a multiformat card reader, headphone and microphone jacks, an ethernet port, and--surprise--a 56-kbps fax/modem port. I'm not sure what that last item is doing there, but perhaps it's to make up for the fact that the laptop has no Bluetooth connectivity. (It isn't much of a consolation prize.)
The NV5933u has a full, flat keyboard, as well as a number pad. The keys look kind of old-school next to the more common Chiclet-style keyboards, but their round, modern font helps to update the look. The keyboard is quite pleasant to type on--the keys are solid, though a little bouncy--despite the fact that the entire keyboard is pushed to the left because of the number pad. The number pad is a nice addition; it doesn't shove the keyboard over so far as to be uncomfortable, but it is a little too close to the regular keyboard.
The matte-black touchpad is recessed (though not completely indented) and located slightly to the left on the palm rest due to the presence of the number pad. The touchpad is decently big and features a mirrored rocker instead of separate buttons. The rocker feels kind of cheap and is very narrow, but it isn't too hard to use.
The touchpad itself, unfortunately, is not as easy to use: The matte-black surface is hard to glide over, and moving the mouse pointer across the screen is a chore. The pointer stutters across the screen, and the system recognizes multitouch gestures (such as pinching to zoom) less than half the time.
The display, a 1366-by-768-pixel, glossy, LED-backlit, ultrabright affair, is pretty good--big and bright. It isn't terribly crisp, however, and the resolution is a little low considering that the computer has a Blu-ray Disc player. The screen is very good for basic video (Hulu, YouTube, and DVDs all work fine), but Blu-ray playback definitely misses some of that wow factor. In fact, Blu-ray looks a lot like good DVD quality on this screen. The viewing angles are also disappointing: Colors fade quickly, and the glossy surface shows reflections.
Video playback is great, thanks to the snappy Core i3 processor. YouTube, Hulu, and other streaming HD video exhibits no stutter at all, while DVDs and Blu-ray titles play nicely. You can even play a DVD, stream video, play music, and have a Word document open at the same time with very little lag. (Then again, why would you want to play three different kinds of media simultaneously?) The speakers are fine, too--decently loud, and only slightly lacking in fullness. They're definitely good enough for casual movie watching.
Don't let the NV5933u's impressive multimedia playback fool you, though. It has no discrete graphics card, so attempting to play anything more complex than a browser-based Flash game is a sad sight to behold.
Gateway preloads the NV5933u with a bunch of software, and some of it is actually useful. The system comes with the requisite trialware--Microsoft Office 2007, Norton Internet Security 2009--as well as some Gateway-specific backup programs. You also get CyberLink PowerDVD 8 and a number of special offers via the Best Buy Software Installer (if you purchase the computer from Best Buy).
All in all, the Gateway NV5933u is a pretty good multitasking, Blu-ray Disc-playing, all-purpose laptop. The only real drawback is the touchpad, but you can easily fix that with a USB mouse (the machine has four USB ports, after all).