Hands on Usage
This is my favorite part of a notebook review because the benchmarks and specifications only tell half the story when it comes to how well a notebook performs. How good or bad a notebook is depends on all parts of the machine as well as the user experience; great performance from the notebook's hardware means nothing if the notebook has a bad screen and a bad keyboard.
The Gateway P-7808u FX lacks the frills that the Alienware M15x offered, but the Gateway also lacks about half the cost of the m15x as well. You don't get a fancy backlit keyboard with adjustable light colors with the Gateway, but what you do get is a good keyboard with full-size keys and a full number pad. If you enter lots of numeric data that number pad is a blessing.
The keyboard itself is nice enough, nothing spectacular but nothing bad either. It offers decent tactile feel and clicky buttons touch typists will like. The WASD buttons get orange letters to set them apart from the rest of the keyboard and to show passers-by that this is a gaming machine.
The large keyboard also gets a large track pad. The track pad has dual buttons underneath and is as sensitive and accurate as you can expect a track pad to be. You certainly won't want to play games using the track pad, but you could in a pinch.
Above the keyboard are the keys for controlling the multimedia functions of the notebook, everything you expect to find is there and the touch sensitive buttons look cool too. The screen is nice enough, it lacks the 1920 x 1200 resolution that the m15x offers, but honestly, a resolution that high can make for uncomfortable use in anything other than gaming. The 1440 x 900 resolution works well enough and ensures that you can play most games with the eye candy turned on.
The screen is matte finished and while it throws glare somewhat , the glare off the screen is nowhere near as bad as what the glossy Alienware machine produced. Movie watching is good on the screen with sharp colors and decent black levels. The sound system on the machine was decent, much better than what Alienware offered, with enough volume to listen to movies without resorting to headphones.
The big drawback of any large notebook or gaming machine is the size and weight. The Gateway P-7808u FX is a touch over nine pounds, meaning that you'd better eat your Wheaties if you plan on carrying the beast on a daily basis around town or school.