At a Glance
Gateway M460 Notebook (2.13-GHz Pentium M, 512MB 533-MHz DDR2)
Slim laptop has 4 USB ports--more than most laptops have. It has a problematic pointing stick device, however.
The Gateway M460X's wide-screen resolution of 1200 by 800 pixels may not be able to match the detail that higher-resolution 15.4-inch wide screens can produce, so you won't squeeze quite as many spreadsheet columns onto the M460X's screen at once or see as much of two side-by-side documents. But your eyes may thank you anyway. Unlike laptops with very precise resolutions, the M460X doesn't suffer from screen elements that look as though they shrank in the wash.
Overall the M460X is nicely designed and equipped for a $2059 wide-screen laptop. In addition to carrying a multiformat DVD burner, it has a FireWire port and a TV-out port. All four of the M460X's USB 2.0 ports are located on the right side of the unit--two side-by-side and two stacked--a handy layout if you need to connect and disconnect multiple USB peripherals from your laptop quickly. Both the hard drive and memory are user upgradable. You can even swap out the DVD burner for an optional second hard drive or optional second battery, after removing one small case screw on the bottom next to the release latch. An expansion port on the bottom of the case accepts a snap-on port replicator, priced at $139 more.
The M460X weighs 6.9 pounds--not bad for a 15.4-inch wide-screen laptop, and its battery juts an inch from the back like a sleek bumper, giving the notebook a sporty look. The battery comes with an always-welcome external gauge and lasted a respectable 3.3 hours in our tests. In our speed tests, the M460X earned a WorldBench 5 score of 87, which is about what we expected of a 2.13-GHz Pentium M 770-equipped laptop with 512MB of RAM.
Now for the knocks. Though we liked the laptop's jaunty blue-LED power button and the location of the system status panel beneath the mouse buttons, the keyboard felt a bit too mushy. We gave up trying to use the M460X's pointing stick--a low nondescript nub in the center of the keyboard--because it suffered from an erratic cursor; and every time we recalibrated it, the touchpad became a tad too lethargic. The M460X's built-in stereo speakers are so weak that you'll be glad the headphones port sits within easy reach on the front of the notebook.
Gateway has pared its once lushly detailed and illustrated printed users' manual down to a small, plain booklet, with networking tips relegated to a separate Acrobat manual on the hard drive. The documentation may not be as cohesive as before, but it still does the job and then some.
The M460X is light and snazzy looking for a 15.4-inch wide screen, but don't consider it if you're set on using a pointing stick.
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