I bought this computer a couple of months ago as my first computer. I had decided that I wanted something compact, something that I could bring to school, to my friend's house, while I'm out of the house, I wanted mobility, with still enough power for gaming and multi-tasking, and this is exactly what this laptop gave me.
This Gateway is a 14 inch widescreen laptop which is pretty plain esthetically but very well constructed. The hinges are robust, unlike many floppies that I have seen on Dells and Acers where a small tap on the screen would make it wiggle for minutes. It's compact size makes it very light and easily transportable, and coupled with a <a href="/Samsonite_Backpacks_Collection_Hisize_10453_Computer_Bags">laptop bag like this one</a> made the task of bringing my laptop to school a much easier thing than one of my friends who complains about her clunky, heavy, 15.4 inch Toshiba.
The inside of this laptop is just as plain as the shell, but still very functional. There are no fancy shortcut keys or tons of LEDs notifying you of just about everything, but there are still the presence of the standard Fn function keys on the built in keyboard which allow you to control media, quick keys for sleep mode and other handy functions, as well as and screen settings such as dual-monitor, and brightness, etc. The keyboard has a soft feeling to it and is very easy to get used to, despite that it is quite small compared to a normal keyboard. If you think that you will game with this laptop, I strongly recommend buying an external USB keyboard for all you gaming needs, because hours of playing games has led to my space bar and WASD keys to become a little worn out (paint is now slightly glossier and color is more light than before.). The only LED indicators present are those for Wi-Fi (wireless internet) device status, Caps Lock, Num Lock, CD and Processor activity, and they are all neatly grouped under the touch pad. The touch pad is standard, but it's positioning makes it so that when typing, you sometimes hit it by mistake, making your mouse click somewhere else and disturbing your typing.
The hardware in this baby is not what you would have expected for the price. It sports an Nvidia Nforce 4 chipset, 512 MB of DDR2 at 533 mhz, an AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-50 dualcore processor clocked at 1.6, an Nvidia Geforce 6100 and an 80 gig 4200 rpm hard drive. This might look minimal to some PC enthusiast, but I was amazed at how this rig performed. Hypertransport makes this CPU very very fast, excellent for multi-tasking.
In terms of practical examples in the real world, that means playing Wolfenstein ET at full frame rate (60 Hz refresh rate means 70 FPS from memory), Songbird playing music from an external hard drive, Bittorrent and PeerGuardian running full throttle.
What really limits the performance is actually the slow filesystem, and GPU with the 4200 rpm drive slowing it down considerably versus 5400 and 7200 RPM drives. The drive easily upgradeable, but is a good start nonetheless. As for the GPU, you'll have to live with it unfortunately.
Another small problem that I found on this machine is the brightness and contrast ratio for the screen, which is pretty dim compared to other higher end laptops like HPs.
The battery time is 3 hours on average.
Upgrade options could include RAM to up to 2 GB and faster file system with 7200 or 5400 RPM drives.
It comes shipped with Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is enough of an OS for most people. Some reviews tell me that it can also run Vista pretty good. Sadly, it is not linux compatible, although the newer distros are said to include hacked drivers for the Realtek 8185 wireless radio that it has. The WiFi and sound card have both been known to cause problems with Linux.
Overall, this is a good first laptop for anybody, more precisely for the students which needs to lug it around a lot. Although not made for gaming, it can handle most of today's games with ease (I'm talking Battlefield 2, World of Warcraft, Counter Strike Source, etc, and is great for multi tasking. I stongly recommend the buy, it's the best value for the price that I have seen for a while.