By: Ryan Jones
I’ve owned two laptops over the years, and I’ve decided to take the plunge and pick up a Tablet PC. I’ll use it mostly for taking notes or editing power point slides. The good thing about a hybrid laptop (“Tablet PC convertible”) is that if I need to program I can use the keyboard, and if I need to do anything else, I can pull out the stylus.
(view large image) Gateway CX2724 Notebook mode
(view large image) Gateway CX2724 in Tablet mode
(view large image) Gateway CX2724 closed with battery out, pen for comparison
Gateway CX2724 Specs:
- Intel Centrino Duo T2050 With 1.6GHz Processor Speed
- 14″ Widescreen WXGA TFT with Digitizer & Pen
- 100GB SATA (5400 RPM)
- 1024MB DDR2 memory for multitasking power, expandable to 2GB
- Weighs only 3.11 kg and measures just 3.2 cm thin for easy portability
- Network Card: 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 Port), Intel PRO/Wireless LAN 802.11a/b/g (3945ABG), Includes SecureEasySetup
- Removable Storage: 4-in-1 Digital Media Manager: Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Multimedia Card (MMC)
- I/O Ports: 3 x USB 2.0 Ports, 1 x VGA External Connector, 1 x IEEE 1394 Port, 1 x RJ11 (Modem), 1 x RJ45 (Ethernet LAN), 1 x Microphone, 1 x Headphone / Audio Out
Reasons for Buying:
I picked up this laptop because a) I don’t like to spend too much money on computer stuff, and b) because I know in just a few months my item becomes obsolete. I usually make sure I pick one up that is near the top of the line, but never the best. This computer had a very good price, and the specs on it were pretty good for what’s out there for Tablet PCs.
Where and How Purchased:
I purchased this laptop at Best Buy (after waiting around for 30 minutes for a till to open in the computer center!)
The laptop is a combination of a blurred silver and black. I wish it had a bit more gloss on some of it so it looked a little snappier (just my personal preference). I was expecting some flex on the screen when I bought it, but surprisingly there’s absolutely none. The screen is also flush with the frame of the screen. I had tried out another model in the store that had the screen indented, which I found annoying. The joint that swivels the monitor is well built; it feels very solid when transitioning to and from tablet mode. The pen is really light and has a nice smooth feel.
The design is definitely geared towards tablet mode; when you’re in laptop mode, the speaker output and the speakers are pointed right at your chest. So if I plug in my headphones they jab into my stomach (if it’s on my lap), and if I use the speakers they kind of get muffled by my body. There’s a bulge at the back of the unit from the battery which I like because it works as a handle to carry the unit, and it also keeps the unit off of my lap by a tiny bit providing air flow.
The Gateway CX2724 has a 14″ Widescreen WXGA TFT with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 768. I wish the resolution was higher at around 1440 x 900 so I could fit more on the screen. The viewing angle seems to be very good for text, but not so great for image editing. When I was working on editing some pictures, the color looked distorted when viewed from the side (I had someone looking at the picture I was editing and I had to move the screen so they could view it dead otherwise they couldn’t see the colors properly). The unit has a basic 128 MB shared video card. The video card probably wouldn’t cut it for games, but when I purchased this laptop it wasn’t for games, production was the main focus.
As I said before the speakers are in the front and get muffled by my stomach when using the unit in my lap. However this laptop has amazing sound output when compared to my other laptops that had Harman Kardon built in. So if I have it in my lap I just crank it up and don’t have any problems. As I said before though, if you’re using headphones with a large plug in the jack, watch out.
Processor and Performance:
The Gateway CX2724 runs a Core Duo T2050 at 1.60GHz, and performs all of the tasks that I need. Most of the time I’m just compiling or writing up documents with Microsoft Word, Excel and Power Point, which I wouldn’t consider hardcore use. Because of the video card I wouldn’t dare put any insane games like Half-Life 2 or Doom 3 on the Gateway. They definitely wouldn’t run properly.
Gateway CX2724 Performance Benchmarks:
We used SuperPI to calculate the number Pi to 2 Million digits in this raw number crunching benchmark. This open source benchmark application allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated from 16 Thousand to 32 Million. The benchmark, which uses 19 iterations in the test, was set to 2 Million digits.
Comparison of tablet/notebook models using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
(1.6GHz Centrino Duo)
|Toshiba Portege M400 (1.83GHz Core Duo)||1m 19s|
|Toshiba Tecra M4 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|HP tc4200 (1.73GHz Alviso PM)||1m 51s|
|Toshiba R15 Tablet PC (1.6GHz Dothan PM)||2m 8s|
(view large image) Hard Drive (HDTune)
Battery Life (Battery Eater Pro) Results: Total Time 1:17:05
Heat and Noise:
The biggest disadvantage of this notebook (and the one that tempts me to return it every time I turn it on) is the noise. There’s an unknown buzz when the tablet is running on battery power, it’s like a high-pitched whining noise. So far Gateway won’t acknowledge the problem, even though it’s happening with a lot of the units. When I inquired with Gateway, they asked me to send the unit to them because something’s “loose” inside my case causing it to whine. I built laptops for a year, and I know it’s definitely not this. I can disable the sound by putting a USB key in the computer or plugging in the power cord. The heat is minor, barley noticeable, and the fans are quiet.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
The unit has a full size keyboard (the enter key, tab and caps lock are normal size) which is pretty good. The only problem is the Fn and the Ctrl key are in the wrong places. I’ve always typed with Ctrl on the bottom left. Even as I write this review I keep hitting “Fn + B” to bold (it’s a good thing “Fn + B” doesn’t do anything or I’d be doomed!). I hope to adjust soon. The touchpad is normal. It’s not glossy which is good (no stutter stepping with your finger), and the left click button is bigger than the right click button (no problems with it).
The buttons on the screen frame are; turn screen (180, 360 etc), Ctrl+Alt+Delete (it still IS windows), Windows Journal, Screen options (Increase brightness), and Power on/off, and the navigator for the Screen options menu. The blue lights on the outside are nice, and they don’t blind me in a dark room.
Input and Output Ports:
The left side has a power port, expansion port (floppy addition or CDROM), video out (attach to monitor), Ethernet, 3 USB ports, and fire wire.
The right side has the CD Burner/DVD Reader, lock hole, and a 56k modem port.
The back has nothing at all (larger battery).
The front has a microphone port, a speaker port, and an SD card reader.
(view large image) Gateway CX2724 Left side
(view large image) Gateway CX2724 Right side
(view large image) Gateway CX2724 Back
(view large image)Gateway CX2724 Front
The unit comes with Intel PRO/Wireless a/b/g which seems to work perfectly fine (at least just as good as my previous laptops). Even though no one seems to use it anymore, I like having the option of wireless 802.11a, which my previous laptops didn’t have.
I usually get about 2-3 hours out of the laptop depending on what I’m doing. If I’m doing large compiles and doing a lot of processing I get about 2 hours. If I’m just typing up word documents I can pull off 3 hours no problem. The battery has a slight bulge to it and creates airflow underneath it. The AC cord is nice and small.
(view large image) The space between the laptop and box because of battery
(view large image) The size of the Gateway CX2724 AC adapter
Operating System and Software:
The Gateway CX2724 came with Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 preinstalled. Windows XP Tablet Edition is basically Windows XP Pro, but with support for hand and voice recognition. The unit also came with a trial of Microsoft Office, a full version of One Note 2003, a useless program called Microsoft Journal, and a free trial of GoBinder. I was surprised at how little garbage it came with; it had the common things like AOL, some other stupid wireless utility, and a 56k manager tool. Once I uninstalled those I was off and going. It comes with a recovery CD and a recovery partition, so if anything goes awry I’ll be prepared.
I have to say in my opinion the customer support is terrible. I only dealt with them online but they didn’t listen to my actual problem and they just cut and pasted scripted lines as replies. They wouldn’t even consider that it was anything other than the battery or a loose screw that may be causing the buzzing (and the buzzing is widespread). The only goods part of the customer support experience was that I didn’t have to wait in line for longer than 5 minutes.
This laptop is perfect for anyone who’s into productivity; it’s powerful and has a good battery life. The CDROM can also be removed and an extra battery put in its place (modular). Perfect for business/school.