Gateway C-140x Tablet PC User Review

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Gateway C-140x Tablet PC User Review

I am a computer geek and a writer, so when I first encountered a computer that I could write on I could not wait to get my own.  However, a stagnant market flooded with underpowered overpriced machines kept me from purchasing my first tablet for about a year. Since I am a college student with limited funds, price was a big factor in my purchase of the C-140x. Power was also an important consideration since I am a bit of a gamer. Already, I have utilized my C-140x for note taking in class as well as gaming on-the-go.


The Gateway C-140x Tablet PC in notebook mode. (view large image)

Gateway C-140x Tablet PC specs as reviewed (price $ 1,670)

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz
  • Display: 14.1" Wacom Enabled WS
  • RAM: 2GB (2 x 1GB factory)
  • Graphics: ATI X2300 HD
  • Hard Drive: 80GB 5400 rpm
  • ROM: Dual Layer DVD +/- RW
  • Battery: 8-cell Lithium-Ion
  • Network: 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • Wireless: 802.11a/b/g + Bluetooth
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Connectivity: 3 x USB, 1 x Firewire, 1 x VGA, 1 x headphone and microphone
  • Protection: 3-year Labor & 3-year Accidental

How I Purchased

I configured my C-140x on July 26th with a base price of $950 after $150 instant savings. The total came to $2,000, but after reading on the tabletpcreview.com forums that I could get a better price by ordering through a sales rep, I gave Gateway a call. My final purchase price was $1,670 (tax, shipping and extended warranties included). I am very satisfied with what I paid and the quality of the tablet for the price, although it did take a month to finally get here, which brings me to their customer service.

Customer Service

Gateway was having some serious problems meeting demand, and most orders were delayed when I ordered my tablet. The customer service representatives I spoke with on several occasions were of no help. I was given the run-around about the status of my order initially, even assured it had shipped only to receive an email saying that it would not arrive for three more weeks. I give customer service a solid F. Luckily, I had a nice sales representative who gave me a sweet deal on a 500GB Western Digital My Book to compensate for the wait, and when the package was shipped to my house instead of my dorm due to Gateway’s negligence, I was given a store credit equal to the cost of shipping, so they made some amends.

Design and Build

I like the all-black matte finish with silver accents (the hinge and Gateway logos are silver).  It hides fingerprints well. The blue LEDs are pretty cool looking without being annoying or distracting. My friend who teased me about buying a Gateway admitted my C-140x is “actually pretty slick,” and whenever I swivel the screen to write in public, random strangers come up to me and comment on how cool it is. The overall build quality is very solid, which was a concern. The screen swivels to slate mode fluidly without wobble. The hinge feels very sturdy, not flimsy, as it is made from metal alloy attached to a magnesium super-structure.  However, I find myself constantly trying to swivel it in the wrong direction, and I wish it were bi-directional. For example, if I want to show the person sitting to my left something on my screen I have to turn the entire laptop. Although annoying, my guess is that the size of the screen prevented the use of a bi-directional hinge because it would not have been sturdy enough.


The C-140x converting into tablet mode. (view large image)

Another annoying characteristic is the magnetic latch mechanism. Over the last few days I have mastered the alignment and usually get it latched on the first try in either mode, but it was very annoying on the first day, especially when I was in a hurry. The screen is well protected and does not ripple when pressed either directly or from the outside. However, mine seems to have a dozen or so tiny air bubbles underneath that are only visible when the screen is off. They disrupt the writing surface a little bit – when I glide over an air bubble while inking it feels rough and jarring. I have been able to smooth some out, but many seem intent on staying. Two other design flaws include the placement of the vent, which I describe more in the heat and noise section and the placement of the microphone on the front bezel. Having the microphone on the front bezel is less than ideal as it is very easy to cover with my arm while writing. I realized this when I went to review the recording for my biology lecture. It was muffled and quite useless, but the recording of my Statistics lecture, during which I held the tablet differently, was perfectly audible.

My C-140x weighs 6.5lbs configured with the standard 8-cell battery. I carried it in my backpack all day with my heavy Biology book and a few smaller books. I survived! However, it was not the most pleasant experience I have ever had. The weight makes holding it in slate mode burdensome as well. I prefer to write with it propped on one knee, or laying flat on my desk like a paper notebook. I am sort of petite, so the weight is an issue, but it’s manageable and I don’t think it should deter anyone from buying the C-140x.

Display

The 14.1-inch XGA screen maxes out at (1280×768). While it would be nice to have a higher resolution option when open windows start to pile up, I prefer 1280×768 (not too big nor to small) and I am not hurting for more desktop space. The screen is bright and easy to see even on its lowest settings. There are eight degrees of brightness, and viewing angle/glare does become a problem at the two lowest settings. It’s glossy, but not impossible.


The C-140x display with part of the review written on it. (view large image)

I used it for hours in my school’s atrium sitting in front of huge windows with lots of light pouring in and while it was definitely not ideal for viewing the screen, it was manageable. I was actually able to angle the screen to remove most of the glare. The writing surface is a bit bumpy in some places because of air bubbles, and the ink looks blotchy from certain angles as if writing with a leaky pen. Overall, the inking experience is enjoyable. Actually, I inked this entire review in One Note then exported it to word. The screen is a bit narrower than a piece of notebook paper. It definitely seems durable, I mean it has no scratches so far, though I do wipe it constantly because of smudges left by my hand while inking.

Processor and System Performance

I have a fairly demanding game called The Sims 2, and all of its expansions. I am happy to report that the C-140x runs it without any lag whatsoever on all the highest settings. The "Seasons" expansion pack is particularly demanding because of the weather animations, but the C-140x generated blizzards and rainstorms smoothly.  It takes about 1 minute 20 seconds from the time I push the power button to fully load my desktop. Running a 80GB 5400 rpm hard drive with 2GB of RAM and dedicated Radeon HD2300 graphics, the system is pretty snappy. I couldn’t be happier with the performance. 

Comparison Results for PCMark05

PCMark05 measures the systems performance as a whole: The C-140x wiped the floor with its competitors.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Gateway C-140x (Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, ATI X2300 HD graphics) 4,342 PCMarks
HP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,453 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 3,473 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 4,171 PCMarks
Gateway E-155C (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.06GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,205 PCMarks
LG C1 (Intel Core Duo 1.2GHz, Nvidia Go 7300) 2,568 PCMarks
Toshiba R400 (Intel Core Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,187 PCMarks
HP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150) 3,052 PCMarks
Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,724 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo) 2,860 PCMarks
Panasonic ToughBook T4 (Intel 1.20GHz LV) 1,390 PCMarks
Asus R2H (900MHz Celeron M) 845 PCMarks
Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950) 2,732 PCMarks

 

Super Pi

In the below results of Super Pi, where the processor is timed in calculating Pi to 2 million digits:

Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Gateway C-140x (2GHz Core 2 Duo) 58s
HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 39s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 10s
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo) 54s
Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 58s
LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo) 1m 49s
Toshiba R400 (1.2GHz ULV Core Duo) 2m 10s
Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 20s
Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo) 1m 24s
IBM ThinkPad X41t (1.5GHz LV Pentium M) 2m 02s
HP TC4400 Tablet PC (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 13s
Dell Latitude X1 (1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M) 2m 40s
Dell Latitude D420 (1.06GHz Core Solo ULV) 2m 11s
Toshiba Portege M400 (1.83GHz Core Duo ) 1m 19s

 

Comparison Results for 3Dmark05

3DMark05 tests the overall graphic capabilities of a notebook, and overall the C-140x did good, thanks to the ATI X2300 graphics.

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Gateway C-140x (2GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X2300 HD graphics) 1,956 3DMarks
HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, GMA X3100 graphics) 634 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100 graphics) 812 3DMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100 graphics) 925 3DMarks
Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 500 3DMarks
LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo, Nvidia Go 7300) 1,392 3DMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook S2210 (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1150) 810 3DMarks
PortableOne UX (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 590 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite A135 (1.73GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950) 519 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3DMarks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks

 

HDTune Results

Below are the results from running the HDTune benchmark that tests hard drive performance: 

C:\Users\Bevelund\Desktop\HDTune_Benchmark_ST980811AS.png

 

The C-140x did well on the Vista Experience test too.


Vista experience (view large image)

 

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is a full-sized keyboard, but does not feel too scrunched. The keys are a bit noisy for typing in a quiet environment, especially the space bar. The touchpad is comfortable and responsive. It is not sticky like many of the HP machines I have worked on, nor is it too slick. It registers where my finger is and moves the mouse accurately without having to press to hard. If TS2 and my other games were more stylus/touchpad friendly, I probably would not use a mouse at all. 


The C-140x keyboard and touchpad. (view large image)

Speaking of the stylus, it is somewhat fatter than the average pen and has a hollow feeling, but it writes well. I calibrate it a lot because I am constantly changing my writing angle and screen rotation, but it’s not a big deal (just tap the four corners of the screen and all is right in the world).  It stays pretty well aligned once all four orientations have been calibrated, but if you disable/enable one or more of the orientations, which I tend to do often, the pen will need recalibration to those orientations.

Heat and Noise

The tablet gets very warm on the front bezel near the power and function buttons. It was almost uncomfortable to rest my arm there while writing. The bottom is not excessively hot though. When I was writing this, the tablet rested on my bare leg for over an hour, and it felt fine. I do wish the vent were placed somewhere else though. I am right-handed, and if I wish to utilize the battery as a grip I must hold the tablet so that the vent blows toward my body. The air is fairly hot, therefore I most often use the tablet “backward” and am unable to utilize the battery grip. Furthermore, the vent is right where I rest my hand when using a mouse and again the heat becomes an issue. 

As for noise, what noise? I am not exaggerating when I say this thing is whisper quiet. I have used it to take notes in several classes without incident, and I love the OneNote search function. Being able to type in whatever concept I am struggling with and be instantly taken to related notes is sure to come in handy before tests!  Alas, the CD drive spins up noisily when you first engage it. Likewise, if you leave a CD just sitting in the drive it will continue to make noise and spin randomly. Otherwise, the C-140x is very silent and great for in-class note taking.

Input and Output Ports

There are three USB ports, one firewire port, LAN, VGA Out and a proprietary docking port that clutter up the C-140x’s left side.  Even the AC Adapter plugs into the left side. I am pleased with the abundance of connections, but I wish the ports were distributed on both sides. Again, I am right handed. If I want to use a USB mouse I have to run the cable around the back of the system, which is awkward (I elected to go wireless to solve this issue). The built-in CD RW (in my case a dual layer DVD +/- RW), modem jack and annoying vent occupy the tablet’s right side.


Front view of the Gateway C-140x. (view large image)


Left side view of the ports. (view large image)


Right side view of the ports. (view large image)


Back view of the Gateway C-140x. (view large image)

Battery

The battery ran down to zero in 4 hours on power saver settings with the screen brightness set to full. My wireless card was on, and I was playing TS2 with a few web pages open in the background. With all settings turned to power saving and doing light activity like web browsing and taking notes I get 5.5 to 6 hours. Powered on, it takes 2.5 hours to fully charge from 0 percent and 1 hour to reach 50 percent.  I haven’t stopped playing with it since I got it, so I do not know the charge time when powered off.

Speakers

The speakers are nothing special. They’ll get you by for casual music listening or watching videos on youtube, but for serious music listening or movie watching I recommend getting a decent set of headphones or external speakers.

Operating System and Software

My C-140x came with Vista Home Premium.  Windows Vista is wonderful, but not without its flaws, of which there are currently many, but Microsoft is slated to release the first Vista service pack soon. Personally, I have not had any serious issues with Vista, but the security feature is a nuisance and finding drivers to run programs/install certain hardware is still difficult. I installed Firefox, which seems to have angered IE7, but I don’t use IE7 anyway so I don’t really care. Vista Media Center is way less intrusive than XP Media Center Edition. I could not even find it at first. The pre-installed OneNote 2007 software was tucked away too. I immediately uninstalled McAfee since my school provides the full Norton Suite included in the cost of tuition, MS Works 8.0 and maybe two other programs, but that was it. My system did not have much bloatware. However, the list of included software has grown on Gateway’s website. Gateway also included in the box a Recovery disk, WoW trial CD, OneNote 2007 CD and MS Works 8.0 CD.

Wireless

The Intel Pro 3945 802.11a/b/g has continuously been connected to my campus’ wireless network for the last three days. Signal strength stays around three to four bars no matter where I am on campus. I haven’t really utilized the built-in Bluetooth module yet, but I’m sure I will in the near future.

Conclusion

I would strongly encourage anyone interested in a Wacom tablet that also wants a powerful notebook to consider the Gateway C-140x, especially budget conscientious students. I may have been able to afford an even more powerful notebook from one of the other major brands, but when I added in their expensive warranties the system cost shot way beyond what I paid for my fully covered Gateway. This system is not for serious gamers who want to run DiRT or some other outrageously demanding games and this system is not for users who want something ultra-mobile. It is for anyone who wants an outstanding convertible tablet that can be used for inking and presentations.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Great performance
  • 14.1-inch Wacom screen
  • Battery life was excellent
  • Runs quietly
  • Has some gaming capabilities

Cons

  • The weight, kind of heavy
  • Max resolution of 1280×768
  • Vent and Microphone location
  • Shipping Delays


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