I’ve simply completed a day on the Gateway 14, one of the crucial talked-about laptops within the finances Home windows area. And folk… I’m very impressed.
We purchased this at Walmart for $279 (discounted from $360 because it’s a pair generations previous), and sure, it has the legendary cow spots on its lid. The Gateway model from the Nineteen Nineties that everyone knows and love is now licensed by Acer and has change into a Walmart-exclusive model. The cow moos on. Mooooo.
The mannequin I’ve been utilizing contains an Intel Core i5-1135G7 (a chip that powered lots of 2020’s most premium ultraportable gadgets, together with the Samsung Galaxy Guide, the Acer Swift 5, the Dell XPS 13, and the Lenovo Yoga 9i). There’s 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. For $279, that’s a really strong deal and possibly near the very best specs you will get for that worth. The most important compromise is a mediocre touchpad, however that’s mitigated by a strong port choice that ought to assist you to plug in a mouse with no drawback.
The chassis can be the sturdiest and best-built one I’ve ever seen from a Home windows laptop computer, with no flex within the keyboard or display screen and spectacular fingerprint rejection. There’s even an empty drive slot on the underside (fixed with two screws), so you possibly can stick in nonetheless a lot storage you want. Oh, and it’s blue. Blue! How enjoyable is that? Gateway additionally put the little Microsoft and Intel stickers on the underside of the gadget, so the palm rests are a totally untarnished blue. It’s a pleasant, daring look. I approve.
I opened the Gateway up simply earlier than 9AM to begin work. It shipped with actual Home windows, not S-mode. I observed instantly that there was a lot of stuff preinstalled. A few of it was useful — I didn’t must obtain Spotify! — however there have been additionally video games like Solitaire pinned to the taskbar, in addition to some backends to browser video games like Forge of Empires and Elvenar on the desktop. Within the title of Marie Kondo, I cleared all of that out.
It was a reasonably uneventful morning and afternoon; I largely spent it writing in Chrome, with round a dozen tabs open and Spotify often streaming within the background. At first, it appeared a bit laggy, and this was apparently as a result of it actually, actually wanted to be up to date (the unit has been sitting round in our assessment closet for a bit since its buy). I attempted to place this off as a result of I’m a procrastinator that manner, however the gadget finally took issues into its personal palms: it froze, crashed, and commenced updating itself. Honest sufficient. I suppose I deserved that.
As soon as the replace was sorted, I resumed my workload. And reader, the Gateway is quick. It sailed by way of the day with out breaking a sweat. I didn’t as soon as hear a single decibel of fan noise; I may make out a teensy little bit of coil whine if I put my ear to the keyboard, however that was it. Efficiency was visibly smoother and quicker than that of our slightly-more-expensive HP 14 unit, which has a weaker processor and 1 / 4 of the Gateway’s RAM. I additionally barely favor the Gateway’s display screen, which is 1920 x 1080 and simply has a little bit of a extra trendy look to it. I used to be working at 20 to 30 p.c brightness indoors with no glare.
Audio was tinny, with weak percussion and no bass, however had respectable quantity to it, and I may actually hear higher than I may on the HP 14. The microphones, then again, are useful however not excellent — we examined them on The Vergecast (in, admittedly, a really unfavorable setting), so try that episode to listen to what they sound like firsthand.
I began the day with the Gateway absolutely charged, and the unit nearly made it by way of the complete day unplugged, dying within the late afternoon across the seven-and-a-half-hour mark. That solidly beats the HP 14, in addition to… fairly a number of costlier Home windows laptops I’ve examined just lately. I’ll take it.
My post-work exercise was the Gateway’s final take a look at. I spent the night engaged on a manuscript and researching potential brokers to submit that manuscript to. This was an concerned affair, and I had in all probability 40-50 Chrome tabs open — lists of assorted businesses, their necessities, their blogs, and different such issues — and I used to be resizing, swapping, and clicking out and in of all of them very quick. No hassle for the Gateway, which zipped by way of all of it.
I additionally had an entire bunch of my very own Google Docs open, together with the manuscript itself, which was nicely over 300 pages. I’ve to watch out which computer systems I open this doc on as a result of Docs recordsdata of this measurement get very unwieldy and gradual very quick. This was additionally no hassle for the Gateway 14, which loaded the entire thing about as rapidly as any Home windows laptop I’ve ever used and by no means as soon as froze or lagged whereas modifying it.
The Gateway’s keyboard isn’t backlit, however I really had no drawback engaged on it late into the night time with my lights dimmed. The intense white textual content towards the darkish black keys supplied sufficient distinction that I may make out what I wanted to at nighttime. I really a lot favor this expertise to that of utilizing laptops which might be backlit however not very nicely (which is usually what you get in the event you purchase a backlit gadget on this worth vary).
Now, there may be one important draw back that did maintain me up. This is among the worst touchpads I’ve ever used. The dimensions shouldn’t be a difficulty; it feels roomier than the tiny one on the HP 14. Nevertheless, the clicking could be very tough. You actually must shove the factor down. It’s fairly loud and appears like a chore. I’m additionally not fairly certain what was occurring with the actuation factors, however there have been instances once I would click on in a sure space at a sure angle and really feel like I used to be clicking a number of instances.
However most annoyingly, clicking and dragging doesn’t fairly work. There appeared to be a tough cap on how a lot textual content I may spotlight earlier than the touchpad simply determined it was achieved; it additionally took many makes an attempt to focus on as click-and-drag makes an attempt, which actually screwed up my manuscript modifying course of.
Now, on a laptop computer that’s even barely costlier, this challenge can be sufficient to tank the Gateway’s rating. I’m barely extra forgiving of it on this sub-$300 laptop computer as a result of the intensive port choice (additionally higher than the HP 14’s) will make it very simple to plug a mouse into it. Specifically, the truth that there are USB-A ports on each side will make it fairly handy to stay peripherals in, no matter which hand you utilize your mouse with. I don’t use peripherals when reviewing laptops, however you must plan to maintain a mouse useful in the event you purchase this. (There’s additionally a lock slot, an HDMI (surprisingly upside-down, however however), a USB-C, a microSD (!), and a headphone jack.)
Given the truth that my two greatest points, the touchpad and the microphones, can each be solved by exterior peripherals, I actually didn’t have an excessive amount of to complain about right here. In case you don’t already personal a mouse or microphone and might want to purchase them, this gadget could lose a few of its worth — but when you have already got them available (or simply gained’t be needing to make use of the Gateway for video calls too usually), I actually assume this is among the greatest offers you can see on a Home windows laptop computer. Even with its issues, this looks like it may simply be (at the very least) a number of hundred bucks costlier. Plus, it’s blue! Did I point out it’s blue?
I’m so severe once I say I’m really pondering of shopping for one among these for myself. Come on — it’s blue!