With a premium aluminum-alloy design and an ultra-thin bezel that squeezes a 14-inch screen into what's usually a 13-inch space, the Gateway ID47H02u makes a very good first impression. For a reasonable $699, this thin-and-light laptop also includes a powerful Core i5 processor, USB 3.0, and Dolby Home Theater sound. Is this the best 14-inch notebook around?
Sporting a brushed aluminum-alloy lid and deck, metallic-colored keys, and a slick dark blue-tinted touchpad, the Gateway ID47H02u oozes style. Even the matte-black bottom and sides have a smooth surface, with a minimum of extraneous holes and grooves. The remarkable 0.2-inch black bezel surrounding the screen not only fits a 14-inch display in the same space normally reserved for a 13-inch panel, but it also adds a unique design flair.
Thanks to its thin bezel, the 13 x 9 x 1.1-inch Gateway ID47H02u is about half an inch shorter than many other 14-inch notebooks, such as the 13.3 x 9.8 x 1.1-inch ASUS U41JF and the 13.5 x 9.6 x 1.1-inch Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG. At 4.4 pounds, the ID47H02u is also lighter than the ASUS U41JF (4.8 pounds) and the TimelineX 4820TG (4.6 pounds). The HP Pavilion dm4t is a little thicker, but it has the same weight and depth, at 13.4 x 9 x 1.3 inches and 4.4 pounds.
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Keyboard and TouchPad
The island-style keyboard on the ID47 provided reasonable tactile feedback, good key placement, and a comfortable deck that allowed us to achieve a strong score of 86 words per minute with a 1-percent error rate on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, 8 percent faster than our average score. However, the keyboard did show a small amount of flex, particularly when we pressed down on the G and H keys. We do appreciate that the function keys are reversed so you can adjust the brightness and activate media controls without using combos.
The fairly large 3.9 x 2.3-inch Synaptics ClickPad has a slick, glossy surface with a unique blue color. Navigating the desktop wasn't difficult, but the touchpad picks up fingerprints easily and creates a little more friction that we'd prefer. Multitouch geatures such as pinch-to-zoom worked, but they were jerky. Those who use the touchpad with two fingers will experience some jerkiness and occasional unintended zooming. You can also scroll with two fingers and show the desktop at any time with a four-finger swipe down.
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The Gateway ID47H02u stayed pleasantly cool throughout our testing. After streaming a video for 15 minutes at full screen, we measured the touchpad at 84 degrees, the keyboard at 85 degrees, and the bottom at a chilly 79 degrees Fahrenheit. We consider temperatures below 95 degrees comfortable and those below 90 degrees imperceptible.
Display and Audio
The Gateway ID47H02u's 14.1-inch, 1366 x 768 200-nit glossy screen provided sharp, rich images. When we tried watching both a 1080p QuickTime trailer for Immortals and a 1080p YouTube trailer for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, images were crisp and motion was smooth, but colors inverted at even 45 degree angles. Dark areas also showed a high amount of backlight bleed.
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The stereo speakers located on the bottom of the Gateway ID47H02u provided accurate audio that was loud enough to fill a room. Bass-heavy songs from the Forget Me Nots, Kool and the Gang's "Summer Madness," and the Isley Brothers' "Between the Sheets" offered a rich, clear separation of sound. However, guitar-laden tunes such as Motley Crue's "Looks that Kill" had a rough, distorted tone that became more palatable when we turned down the volume a notch. The Dolby Home Theater v.4 software makes a huge difference, as all songs were flat when we toggled the application off.
Ports and Webcam
The Gateway ID47H02u has a generous selection of ports, including one USB 3.0 connector that allows you to connect high-speed external hard drives and docking stations. The right side of the laptop houses an Ethernet port, Kensington lock, and that speedy USB 3.0 port. A VGA port, HDMI, audio in/out, and two more USB ports line the left side. The front lip sports a 5-in-1 card reader.
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The 720p webcam provided sharp colorful images when used near a light source, but it suffered from a lot of visual noise when we used the cam in a very dark area of our living room. When were were talking on Skype in a dim area with a light source behind us, fine details of our face were visible, though shadowed.
Performance and Graphics
With its 2.3-GHz Core i5-2410M CPU, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics, and a 5,400-rpm, 500GB hard drive, the Gateway ID47H02u provides strong performance that's good enough for demanding tasks, from playing 1080p video to crunching large spreadsheets.
On PCMark Vantage, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the ID47H02u scored a strong 6,322, well above the 5,596 thin-and-light notebook category average and the Core i3-powered HP Pavilion dm4t's mark of 5,124. However, the Core i5-powered Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG provided a similar score of 6,348.
Click to enlargeThe 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive booted into Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) in a relatively quick 48 seconds, noticeably faster than the 65.5-second category average. The drive took an unremarkable 3 minutes and 41 seconds to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, which involves copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. That's a rate of 23 MBps, a little slower than the 26 MBps category average, the 24 MBps provided by the HP Pavilion dm4t, and the 25.4 MBps offered by the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG.
When it comes to transcoding video, the Gateway ID47H02u holds its own against the competition. Due to the Intel 2nd Generation Core i5 CPU's QuickSync technology, the ID47H02u was able to transcode an HD video in just 26 seconds, using Cyberlink Media Espresso. That's about 3 times faster than the 1:17 category average and the 38-second time offered by the HP Pavilion dm4t.
Don't expect to do any serious 3D gaming with the Gateway ID47H02u's integrated Intel HD 3000 chip. On 3DMark06, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall graphics prowess, the notebook scored a modest 4,076, on a par with the category average (4,006), but way lower than the Nvidia GT425M-powered ASUS U41Jf's 7,597 score and the AMD Radeon HD 6550M-enabled Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG's mark of 7,844.
On autodetect settings, the ID47H02u managed 35 frames per second in World of Warcraft, which is playable but less than half the 86 fps category average or the 106 fps provided by the ASUS U41Jf. However, when we turned the settings up to maximum, that rate dropped to an unplayable 15 fps, half the 30 fps category average.
The more demanding game Far Cry 2 was too much for the Gateway ID47H02u to handle at any setting, as it managed only 23 fps at 1024 x 768 resolution and 14 fps at its native 1366 x 768.
Click to enlargeThe Gateway ID47H02u packs enough juice to last just about all day. On the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi, the ID47H02u lasted a strong 7 hours and 8 minutes, nearly 2 hours longer than the thin-and-light notebook category average of 5:15 and the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG's time of 5:11. The Pavilion dm4t managed a similar time of 7:02.
Our review configuration, the ID47H02u, carries an MSRP of $699. For that price, you get the 2.3-GHz Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. For $679, you can get the ID49C14u, which has a 2.5-GHz Core i3 CPU and a lower-capacity battery, but we'd recommend going with our configuration because of its faster performance and longer battery life.
Gateway bundles the ID47H02u with a standard array of utilities, including Acer Video Web Camera for capturing stills and video, Gateway Recovery management for creating a restore disc, and Gateway MyBackup for backing up files or even imaging the whole system. Gateway Games is a portal that lets you purchase and download a wide variety of free and paid casual games.
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Click to enlargeA Social Networks app launches automatically when you hit the social networking button that sits to the right of the backspace key. The app shows the latest updates from your FaceBook, Flickr, and YouTube feeds and allows you to post Facebook updates. We like that you can add your favorite friends on the Friends tab in this software and that there's a separate tab just for photos. However, there's no support for Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other popular social networks.
The Gateway ID47H02u is a strong choice for students, families, and anyone else who needs a highly portable notebook with a dash of style. The Dolby-powered speakers also help this 14-inch machine stand out. However, we're not big fans of the glossy touchpad. We prefer the HP dm4t, which has a better touchpad and similar battery life for $100 less. But if you want Core i5 power, long endurance, and a sleek design at a reasonable price, this Gateway laptop is worth the investment.