By Dan Littman
Most of the mobile Pentium 4 notebooks we've tested to date qualify as desktop replacements, but the Gateway 600XL tops them all. It's bigger, faster, and more feature-laden (most notably in terms of its 15.7-inch screen) than any other laptop we've looked at. Yet the 600XL's price is surprisingly reasonable. Light travelers should look elsewhere—this thing is heavy—but if you want it all, you'll find it here. Click here to configure and price a Gateway 600XL.
A big proposition
The 600XL configuration that CNET tested costs $2,699—a reasonable price, considering it came maxed out with 512 MB of memory on a 400-MHz front-side bus, a copious 40-GB hard drive, and Intel's new mobile Pentium 4-M running at 1.7 GHz. The notebook's head-turning feature is its grand, 15.7-inch (diagonal) LCD (Figure A). The display's reasonable 1,280 x 1,024 resolution means text and images look crisp but not overcrowded, and we really enjoyed the saturated colors and the uniform brightness. ATI's 64-MB Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics controller plays movies like a cineplex movie projector.
|Gateway's 600XL offers speed, a large screen, and good battery life, all at a reasonable price. CNET editors rated it an 8 out of 10 and gave it an Editors' Choice award.|
The trade-off for this vision of loveliness? A big, heavy chassis that's 13.88 inches wide, 11.6 inches deep, and 1.88 inches thick. The 600XL weighs a shoulder-straining 8.7 pounds; 9.7 pounds with an AC power supply. But the notebook makes up for its heft, offering plenty of room for storage and connectivity. The two swappable bays in our test unit held a floppy drive and an 8X/24X/8X/8X combo DVD/CD-RW drive. You can also put an extra battery in the floppy bay. The chassis' edges sport an S/PDIF digital-audio jack for multimedia dabblers, dual Type II (single Type III) PC card slots, four-pin FireWire (IEEE 1394), S-Video, PS/2, and two USB ports. A Wi-Fi high-speed, wireless interface comes built in, along with a modem and an Ethernet connection.
Although the 600XL is roomy, some aspects of its design still feel cramped. Unfortunately, the speakers sit under your wrists when you're typing. But when uncovered, they're loud and free of the muffled or tinny sound that typifies most notebook speakers. The keyboard types quietly, feels good, and has mostly large keys, though with so much room, we don't know why Gateway made the [Esc] and [Delete] keys small. The click and scroll buttons are also somewhat undersized.
The 600XL may be big and bulky, but it's as fast, or slightly faster, than other mobile P4-M notebooks we've tested. In overall performance benchmarks, the 600XL sneaked past the nearly identical Toshiba Satellite 5105-S607 by a hair, beat IBM's ThinkPad A31p (which has less system memory and a faster hard drive) by 3.7 percent, and outpaced Micron's TransPort GX3 by 6.4 percent (Table A). And even though it speeds, the 600XL doesn't waste gas; its 11.1-volt, 5,700-mAh battery held out for 2 hours and 49 minutes—a bit better than the Micron's battery and 48 minutes longer than the IBM's. The Toshiba drained its smaller battery in just 90 minutes (Table B).
Gateway backs the 600XL with exceptional support. The three-year warranty includes free pickup and delivery on repairs. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7 for as long as you own the notebook. You also get a detailed, 300-plus-page manual. Additionally, Microsoft Works Suite 2002 comes bundled with the system.
The Gateway 600XL delivers desktop-replacement power and plenty of equipment at an accessible price. Its weight and bulk blur the line between notebook and desktop, but many will be willing to shoulder the burden in exchange for this laptop's big display.
|Longer bars indicate better performance. A score of 100 equals the performance of a test machine with a PIII-800, 128 MB of PC133 CL2 SDRAM, Creative Labs GeForce Annihilator 2 32 MB, and Windows 2000 (Service Pack 1).|
Battery life test
|Time is measured in minutes; longer bars indicate better performance.|
- Gateway 600XL: Windows XP Pro; mobile Pentium 4-M 1,700 MHz; 512 MB RAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 64 MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40 GB 4,200 rpm
- IBM ThinkPad A31p: Windows XP Pro; mobile Pentium 4-M 1,700 MHz; 256 MB RAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 7800 AGP 64 MB; IBM Travelstar 60GN 60 GB 5,400 rpm
- Micron TransPort GX3: Windows XP Pro; mobile Pentium 4-M 1,700 MHz; 256 MB RAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 AGP 32 MB; Hitachi DK23DA-40F 40 GB 4,200 rpm
- Toshiba Satellite 5105-S607: Windows XP Pro; mobile Pentium 4-M 1,700 MHz; 512 MB RAM; Nvidia Geforce 4 440Go 32 MB; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40 GB 5,400 rpm
Click here to check the latest prices on Gateway's 600XL. Table C provides complete specifications for this laptop.
This review was originally published by CNET on April 22, 2002.