At a Glance
Gateway NX560XL Notebook
Typical Gateway fare, this notebook lacks extars but has lots of battery options. The high-resolution screens is good too.
Gateway's NX560XL is dependable but dull. Our test unit lacked features that you might expect to find on a full-size $1593 model, but it did excel in the one area: battery options.
Our test unit had a standard black-and-silver design and carried a basic keyboard without quick-launch buttons, a fingerprint reader, or other conveniences. The touchpad has a large scroll zone, and the frequently used left mouse button is twice as large as the right button--a sensible design that more notebooks should have.
Speed scores were in the same ballpark as those for comparably equipped notebooks. This 1.83-GHz Core Duo T2400-equipped notebook with 512MB of DDR2-677 SDRAM produced a WorldBench 5 score of 87. In contrast, a Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV600 with the same processor but with 1GB of DDR2-533 SDRAM earned a 92, and a Toshiba Satellite P105-S921 with the same processor and 1GB of DDR2-667 SDRAM received an 86.
Battery choices were plentiful. If you rarely work away from a power outlet, you can save money and weight by opting for a standard six-cell battery. Alternatively, you can spend $39 more for a slightly heavier eight-cell battery, or you can spend $83 more for a twelve-cell battery (the version included with our test unit). In our tests, the twelve-cell battery (which extends beyond the back of the notebook) lasted for more than 5 hours; it contributed to a reasonable total notebook weight of 7 pounds (not including power adapter). The NX560XL can also use two batteries simultaneously, including a flat $99 six-cell power pack that fits in the left-side modular bay--though you'll lose simultaneous use of the multiformat DVD burner that normally resides there.
Otherwise, the NX560XL is rather modestly equipped. The 80GB hard drive is on the small side, and such modern notebook features as an ExpressCard slot and a DVI port, are missing. For future expansion, both RAM and storage are user-upgradable. A bottom docking connection accepts a $180 port replicator.
Our test unit came loaded with the Windows Media Center Edition operating system, but the NX560XL is hardly a strong multimedia notebook. The front-mounted speakers, flanking the microphone and headphone ports, are neither loud nor rich sounding. You can't opt for a TV tuner or remote control. But you do get a three-in-one media card reader for handling Memory Stick, SD, and miniSD media. Four USB ports, all on the right side of the case, should satisfy any remaining connection needs. An ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics card with 128MB of dedicated RAM backs the WSXGA+ 15.4-inch wide-aspect screen. If your eyesight is less than hawklike, however, you won't reap much benefit from the screen's 1680 by 1050 resolution after enlarging text and icons to readable dimensions.
Gateway deserves credit for attempting to produce a practical user manual. The Acrobat-based reference delves into topics most manuals ignore, such as how to move data from an old computer, and how to edit videos. The manual works relevant features on the NX560XL into these discussions--the FireWire port for downloading video, for instance. The tutorials are useful, but we'd have liked to see more standard explanations of features in the main manual, too. Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003--a free upgrade from the bundled version of Microsoft Works 8.5 at the time of our review--rounds out the package.
If you're looking for big sound, lots of shortcut buttons, a Webcam, and other gewgaws--don't come knocking on the NX560XL's door. If you need a lot of flexibility in battery life, however, you've come to the right place.