Gateway LT3103u Review

August 21, 2009


Not only are computer manufacturers expanding the definition of netbooks by offering highly-portable, low-cost systems with increasingly larger screens, but now they’re experimenting with different processors, too. Like many netbooks, the Gateway LT3103u has an 11.6-inch screen, but it has abandoned the traditional Intel Atom processor in favor of a single-core AMD chip, which promises stronger performance. As such, this $399 rig is compelling in that it’s one of the first to occupy a middle ground between netbooks and low-voltage notebooks.

But it’s uneasy territory; in order to get marginally better performance numbers, you sacrifice significant battery life.

The Gateway LT3103u borrows its design from the company’s larger NV Series; the lid is a glossy black, highlighted by a silver tab embossed with the Gateway logo. Likewise, the bezel surrounding the screen is glossy black. It’s a slick look, but the lid picks up fingerprints easily. Inside, the chassis and keyboard is matte black, and the palm rests are dimpled like a golf ball, which is comfortable, and offers a new and interesting sensory experience.

At 11.3 x 8.6 inches, the LT3013u takes up the same amount of desk space as the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 and Acer Aspire One 751h, and, like those two systems, its six-cell battery protrudes from the back. The LT3103u maintains a consistent thickness of 1 inch from front to back, much like the 751h. Weighing 3.2 pounds, the LT3103u is 3.2 ounces heavier than the ASUS Eee PC 1101HA, but still fit easily and inconspicuously in a messenger bag.

Keyboard and Touchpad
Similar to the Acer Aspire 751h, the LT3103u has a not-quite-island-style layout; we can’t help but wonder if the two merged companies have been trading market research data. The flat keys have a slightly gritty surface, and offer a good amount of feedback. We had little trouble using the LT3103u to type this review.

While the touchpad is a smallish 2.5 x 1.5 inches (especially compared to the Toshiba mini NB205), it has little friction, and is gesture-enabled, which allowed us to flick, pinch, and zoom to change Web pages and images. The recessed pad and single mouse button below it are framed by a chrome accent, which is a classy touch.
Display and Audio

The 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 glossy LED-backlit display on the LT3103u is no better or worse than those on competing 11-inch systems. Videos streamed from Hulu and played off of the hard drive were bright and crisp; horizontal viewing angles were large enough so that two people could sit on either side of the system and see the screen comfortably.

The stereo speakers on the LT3103u provide adequately loud sound for a netbook. While bass was lacking and higher tones are somewhat tinny, the midrange vocals on Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” came through well. Since the speakers are mounted on the underside of the system’s front lip, we found that audio became muffled and distorted when we had the netbook on our lap; placing the system on a hard surface resulted in an improved listening experience.
Ports and Webcam

Typical for a system of this size, the LT3103u has three USB ports, VGA, Ethernet, headphone and mic, and a 5-in-1 memory card slot.

A 0.3-megapixel resolution might seem a bit low for a webcam, but it’s more than sufficient on the LT3103u. A caller on Skype said that video of us was clear, and colors were represented well. While there was a bit of motion blur, it was nothing out of the ordinary. The microphone on the netbook picked up our voice cleanly, too.



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  2. Gateway always comes up with good quality products. This model looks quiet stylish. I am impressed by the keyboard design, awesome wi-fi connectivity, good audio quality etc. The battery life is not very long. For more details refer gateway laptop review

  3. Gateway is a new company in the Laptop market and it's really a very good configuration as well as it's provide the Great look out...

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