Gateway 14 overview: it’s blue!

I’ve simply completed a day on the Gateway 14, some of the talked-about laptops within the finances Home windows house. And folk… I’m very impressed.

We purchased this at Walmart for $279 (discounted from $360 because it’s a pair generations outdated), and sure, it has the legendary cow spots on its lid.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 consists of an Intel Core i5-1135G7 (a chip that powered a lot of 2020’s most premium ultraportable gadgets, together with the Samsung Galaxy Ebook, 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 stable deal and possibly near one of the best specs you will get for that value. The largest compromise is a mediocre touchpad, however that’s mitigated by a strong port choice that ought to will let you plug in a mouse with no drawback.

The chassis can also 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 and spectacular fingerprint rejection. There’s even an empty drive slot on the underside (mounted with two screws), so you may stick in nevertheless 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 completely 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 need to 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 principally spent it writing in Chrome, with round a dozen tabs open and Spotify sometimes 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 overview closet for a bit since its buy). I attempted to place this off as a result of I’m a procrastinator that means, however the gadget finally took issues into its personal palms: it froze, crashed, and started updating itself. Truthful sufficient. I assume 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 choose the Gateway’s display, 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.

This brand gave me flashbacks.

Audio was tinny, with weak percussion and no bass, however had first rate quantity to it, and I may definitely hear higher than I may on the HP 14. The microphones, however, are practical however not superb — we examined them on The Vergecast (in, admittedly, a really unfavorable setting), so take a look at that episode to listen to what they sound like firsthand.

That’s a fingerprint reader within the high left.

I began the day with the Gateway absolutely charged, and the unit virtually made it by way of the total 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 couple 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 varied 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 bother 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 dimension get very unwieldy and gradual very quick. This was additionally no bother for the Gateway 14, which loaded the entire thing about as shortly 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 offered sufficient distinction that I may make out what I wanted to in the dead of night. I really a lot choose this expertise to that of utilizing laptops which might be backlit however not very nicely (which is commonly what you get should you purchase a backlit gadget on this value vary).

I actually just like the USB-A on both sides.

In the event you’re on the lookout for a Home windows laptop computer below $300, that is my present (and bluest) suggestion.

Now, there may be one vital draw back that did maintain me up. This is likely one of the worst touchpads I’ve ever used. The scale isn’t a problem; it feels roomier than the tiny one on the HP 14. Nonetheless, the clicking could be very tough. You actually need to shove the factor down. It’s fairly loud and looks like a chore. I’m additionally not fairly certain what was happening with the actuation factors, however there have been occasions 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 occasions.

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 accomplished; it additionally took many makes an attempt to spotlight 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 employ your mouse with. I don’t use peripherals when reviewing laptops, however it is best to plan to maintain a mouse useful should 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 largest 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 the event you don’t already personal a mouse or microphone and might want to purchase them, this gadget might lose a few of its worth — but when you have already got them readily available (or simply gained’t be needing to make use of the Gateway for video calls too typically), I actually suppose this is likely one of the finest offers you’ll discover 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 in every of these for myself. Come on — it’s blue!

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