At a Glance
Gateway NX850X Notebook
Not-too-heavy 8.4-pound (without adapter) 17-inch business widescreen offers numerical keypad.
Gateway's new M680XL may not be the sexiest 17-inch wide screen around, but it is the most petite I've seen, at 8.4 pounds not counting the power adapter. The case measures a relatively thin 1.6 inches tall. This means you can actually carry a 17-inch wide screen between home and office without cracking a vertebra. So what if it lacks a TV tuner and the Windows Media Center Edition application that many notebooks of this size have. Students who need the superdetailed 1680-by-1050-pixel native resolution can tote the M680XL to class because this is one big-screen laptop that can survive more than an hour away from an electrical outlet. In our tests, the M680XL lasted 3.3 hours on a single charge of its rear-mounted battery--very impressive for a notebook with a 17-inch display. (Note: We ordered the more powerful 12-cell battery for our review unit, just $20 more than the standard 8-cell battery.)
The M680XL is also fast. The top-of-the-line 2.13-GHz Pentium M 770-equipped unit we reviewed earned a high WorldBench 5 score of 91 (the best we've ever recorded is a 98, earned by a 2-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M-equipped Polywell PolyNote 3015AW last year). And the M680XL is relatively well equipped for its class, coming standard with a fixed right-side DVD burner, a 60GB hard drive, four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and a four-in-one Memory Stick and SD Card reader slot.
The M680XL's black-and-silver case is handsome, with a bright blue, backlit power button and status lights, a touchpad with a dedicated vertical scroll zone, and stylized mouse buttons. Number crunchers will like the separate numerical keypad. The M680XL offers user-upgradable RAM and storage and is well documented in a nice printed manual. But in keeping with its frills-are-bad-for-you vibe, the M680XL's stereo sound is lackluster, and there are no one-press hot buttons of any kind--not for video, music, or even business applications. The M680XL has its good points, but being fun is not one of them.
Not all big-screen laptops are party portables, and that includes Gateway's $2565 M680XL. It lacks entertainment chops, but it's a fast, totable 17-inch-screen desktop replacement with good battery life.
WorldBench 5 score of 91, 2.13-GHz Pentium M 770 processor, 1024MB of DDR2-533 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional, 17-inch screen, 60GB hard drive, DVD-RW drive, V.90 modem, gigabit ethernet, 802.11g, touchpad pointing device, 9.4-pound weight (including AC adapter). One-year parts and labor warranty; 24-hour daily toll-free support.