The Gateway EC14D07u is a rarity in the ultraportable world today in that Gateway crams an optical drive into the machine. The drive is a DVD player and can burn both CDs and DVDs if needed as well. Typically, you don't get an optical drive in this class and this is what makes the Gateway EC14D07u really stand out in a crowded market.
The design of the Gateway EC14D07u is attractive, but it's getting old after seeing so many Gateway machines that look just like the EC14D07u. The glossy black lid of my test unit will be prone to scratches and smudges. Under the lid is a glossy LCD with HD resolution that works very well for playing movies and online video. Colors are sharp and the little machine has the GPU muscle to handle HD video on Hulu or YouTube without hiccups. Glare is something you will have to come to terms with; this screen has it as do all other screens in the class I have tested.
The keyboard is the same chicklet unit I have seen on most Gateway notebooks and from other companies in the last few months. The keyboard is average for the class with nicely sized keys and good tactile feel. Typing feedback is average and you can type on the machine all day in comfort. Being that the machine is an 11.6-inch notebook, the keys are smaller than your average full-size notebook or desktop keyboard.
Like many notebooks and netbooks today, the sound system on the Gateway EC14D07u is almost an afterthought. You can hear the sound it produces, but bass is virtually non-existent and the sound is mostly aimed at the mid-range. You can watch movies or listen to music in a pinch with onboard sound, but most users will want external speakers at home and headphones for use on the go.