What's hot: Accessible RAM and HD for upgrades, stylish design.
What's not: The keyboard has very little travel.
Reviewed March 3, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Like all netbook makers, Gateway has updated its Gateway LT Series netbook line with the new Atom N450 Pine Trail CPU. You can currently get the Gateway LT netbooks with the N450 configuration as well as the Atom N280 and even older N270 configurations. The Intel Atom N450 Pine Trail has the same processor speed as the N280 running at 1.66GHz and the same 677MHz FSB and 512MB L2 cache. The new CPU does improve on battery life and cost less than the last gen Atom CPUs. The Gateway LT series has a 10.1” LED-backlit display, Integrated Intel GMA graphics, a 250GB SATA hard drive that has a very good speed, an integrated webcam and built-in Wi-Fi. Like the previous LT series, the new N450 Gateway netbooks come in variety of colors including red, white and black. We used the Gateway LT2118u, the Cherry Red color in this review.
Design and Ergonomics
The Gateway LT Series has an elegant design with a shiny cover decorated by a chrome logo band on the left side, which has become a signature look for the Gateway notebooks (except the P Series). Whether it’s good branding or cost saving to use the same design for most models, this cover design works for the LT Series very well and makes it stand out in a sea of many plain-looking netbooks. The multi-gesture touchpad integrates into the gunmetal grey palm rest, and the touchpad has a slightly different texture than the palm rest. A thin silver edge line lives below the palm rest and houses the LED lights and the mouse buttons.
The keyboard size is reasonably large by netbook standards. Though the keys are discrete, they don’t have much travel. The Toshiba NB305 netbook has larger keys and much better travel in comparison. The 10.1” WSVGA display on the Gateway LT2118u has a native max resolution of 1024 x 600 with a good viewing angle and reasonably bright screen. An integrated VGA webcam lives above the display and comes with built-in software for settings. The battery also acts like a robust hinge that gives the netbook a nice tilt that provides a better typing angle and gives the bottom-firing speakers some room to get the sound out. Two mirror-like edges flank the large hinge: the left one is the power button and the right an LED for the Wi-Fi.
Horsepower and Performance
Gateway currently offers the LT Series in three CPU Configurations: the Intel Atom N270, N280 and N450 configurations. By and large, the N450 (Pine Trail) processor doesn’t add too much speed in both real life tests and benchmark numbers, but the biggest improvement over the older Atom CPUs is better battery life.
The Gateway LT2118u runs on the Intel Atom N450 processor at 1.66GHz with 512KB L2 cache and 677MHz FSB. The netbook comes with a 1GB DDR2 667MHz SDRAM memory, however it’s easy to upgrade it to 2GB (the memory slot is conveniently located under a door on the bottom of the netbook). Though Windows 7 Starter Edition manages to chug along on 1 gig of RAM (something Vista never did well), you’ll see worthwhile performance improvements for the small investment in a 2 gig SODIMM.
The Gateway LT2118u has the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 integrated graphics and Mobile Intel NM10 Express chipset. The LT2118u model comes with a 250GB 5400rpm SATA hard drive (ours was a Toshiba), and there is also a 160GB SATA HDD option available. The hard drive feels pretty zippy and it benchmarks well. The Gateway has built-in Wi-Fi b/g/n (Atheros AR5B95) which has very good range and speed for streaming video over Wi-Fi from Netflix and Hulu. Like most netbooks, the Gateway LT2118u doesn’t have a built-in optical drive or integrated Bluetooth.
The Gateway LT2118u has 3 USB 2.0 ports, a VGA connector, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, a mic in jack, an audio out jack and a Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader that works with Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital and xD-Picture Cards.
We put the Gateway LT2118u through both PCMark Vantage and PCMark 05 benchmark tests. PCMark 05 couldn’t complete the Graphics tests (therefore this isn’t a total score), but we provided the results for the rest of the tests. We did the PCMark 05 tests so that you can see the comparison results with other netbooks such as the Sony VAIO W, the Toshiba Mini NB205 and the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-P netbook, all running on the Atom N280 CPU at 1.66MHz. We have provided the comparison numbers below.
PCMark Vantage benchmark results for the Gateway LT2118u:
PCMark Vantage Suite: 1221
Memory Suite: 410
TV and Movie Suite: N/A
Gaming Suite: 545
Music Suite: 1905
Communication Suite: 1142
Productivity Suite: 1164
HDD Test Suite: 3145
The Windows 7 Experience Index for the Gateway LT2118u: (on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9)
Gaming Graphics: 3.0
Primary hard disk: 5.7
As we mentioned before, the new Atom N450 Pine Trail CPU isn’t about adding speed but cutting cost and extending battery life. The Gateway LT2118u didn’t get a whole lot faster, but it runs most productivity software, music playback and video streaming apps just fine. Microsoft Office 2007 runs smoothly, IE 8 has good speed and movies stream smoothly from Netflix via Wi-Fi. Streaming Hulu content via Wi-Fi is a little jerky with some frame drops, but Flash does that to many full sized notebooks also.
The Gateway LT2118u comes with a 6-cell battery that’s 5600 mAh in capacity. The new Atom N450 processor and chipset make for a noticeable improvement on battery runtimes, and the Gateway LT2188u is no exception. The Gateway has very good battery life and amazing standby. Using productivity tools, email, web and music, the netbook can last you at least 8 hours. Streaming movies from Netflix via Wi-Fi, the Gateway LT2118u lasted 5 hours. Streaming movies and TV shows from Hulu over Wi-Fi, the netbook lasted 4 hours as Flash somehow taxes on the battery life more than Silverlight. All tests were done with the Gateway set at the default management settings. The Gateway LT2118u charges quickly and it comes with a portable AC charger (100-240V).
Like most new netbooks, the Gateway LT2118u comes with the Windows 7 Starter edition OS. Other Microsoft applications include MS Works SE and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007. Gateway bundles its own software as well and these include Gateway Recovery Management software and a video webcam tool. The Gateway LT2118u also comes with a trial version of Norton Antivirus and online backup services.
The Gateway recovery software is particularly easy to use. It runs in Windows (no hunting through the manual to find out which F keys to press when booting) and it can also create restore discs.
The Gateway LT2118u wins with its elegant design on the exterior and the expandable memory and accessible hard drive on the interior. The Intel Atom N450 Pine Trail update gives the Gateway much longer battery life. And it handles most applications that you would want to use on a netbook well; applications like MS Works, IE, music playback and video streaming. Though we were not exactly impressed by the benchmark results the Gateway produced, our real life tests showed that the netbook handled most applications such as MS Works, IE, music playback and video streaming quite well. We do recommend that you upgrade the memory to 2 gigs and get the 250GB hard drive option.
Pro: An easy accessible RAM slot that allows you to upgrade to 2GB memory. Has a stylish design.
Ports and Slots: 3 USB slots, Ethernet RJ45 port, VGA out, mic in and headphone out jacks, multi-in-1 media reader.
Software: Windows 7 Starter edition OS. MS Works SE and 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007 included. Also IE8 and Windows Media Player. Gateway bundles include Gateway Recovery Management software and a video webcam tool.