It's always nice to have a change of pace and today I am looking at a new ultraportable notebook from Gateway. The machine looks like a netbook at first glance, but has notebook hardware crammed inside the small chassis. The small size makes the machine very portable and it feels like a netbook in the hand.
Once you fire the machine up, the performance lets you know this is no Atom-powered rig for sure. The little Gateway EC14D07u has average looks and will be a welcome machine for any business user or student that needs a small notebook to take with them on the road that offers decent performance and battery life.
The Gateway EC series that the EC14D07u comes from has numerous models that differ in the hardware crammed inside. The Gateway EC14D07u is certainly worth a look if you are in the market for an ultraportable, so let's jump in and see what the Gateway EC14D07u is all about.
Specifications, Availability, and Pricing
The Gateway EC14D07u is part of the EC line at Gateway. There are gobs of models available in the range with different hardware inside. The machine I am checking out has extra RAM and an internal optical drive with a MSRP of $629.99.
The machine is available in retail outlets, but not online at the time of writing. Check out the chart below for all the specifications.
The Gateway EC14D07u
The lid of the Gateway EC14D07u looks just like most of the other Gateway notebooks I have looked at. My review unit was glossy black and you can get the rig in a cherry red finish, too.
The bottom of the notebook has lots of cooling grates and covers over the RAM and HDD.
The keyboard is the chicklet style that Gateway uses on so many of its notebooks.
The glossy screen is bright and works well for video.
The right side of the Gateway EC14D07u has a USB port, Ethernet port, memory card reader and the optical drive.
The back of the notebook has nothing but the shiny screen hinges and matte black plastic.
The left side of the notebook has the power port, VGA output, HDMI out, two USB ports, mic/headphone jacks and the Kensington lock port.
The front edge of the machine has a little slider on the right corner that turns WiFi on and off and you can see the shiny track pad buttons and indicator lights here as well.
Benchmarks - Battery Life, Audio and Video Encoding
To benchmark the Gateway EC14D07u I will be using Battery Eater Pro, my iTunes encoding test and my Windows Media Encoder Test. We will start out with the iTunes encoding test.
Version and / or Patch Used: 188.8.131.52
Developer Homepage: http://www.apple.com
Product Homepage: http://www.apple.com/itunes
For the iTunes encoding test I take the Stone Temple Pilots Core CD in MP3 format and encode it to AAC format using iTunes and time the results with a stopwatch. The Gateway EC14D07u turned in a solid score on this test, only being out performed by larger notebooks. Check out the chart below for the test results.
Windows Media Encoder
Version and / or Patch Used: 9
Developer Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com
Product Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx
For the movie encoding test I take the HD Microsoft Magic of Flight video and encode it to DVD quality video with CD quality audio using Windows Media Encoder. The Gateway EC14D07u again turned in a solid score for the benchmark. Check out the chart below for the results.
Battery Eater Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.70
Developer Homepage: http://batteryeater.com/development.html
Product Homepage: http://batteryeater.com
Battery Eater Pro is very hard on batteries so you are likely to get more run time in the real world, depending on how you use the machine. For the power saving mode test I run the machine with the screen at 50% brightness and no power saving features. The performance mode test is run at the same settings, but the screen is at 100% brightness.
The Gateway EC14D07u really shined here with only two notebooks I have ever tested beating its battery life. Check out the chart below for the full results.
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.
The last time I traveled with an ultraportable machine that lacked an optical drive for business, I regretted it big time. I needed that optical drive several times to access documents given to me on the road and I was out of luck.
The best feature of the Gateway EC14D07u is the DVD drive crammed into the little machine. That is something that you just don't see in the size range the machine is in very often.
The Gateway EC14D07u also has good performance and battery life, making it a very nice option in the ultraportable crowd, especially for those needing an optical drive.
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