Review: Gateway ID49C07u

Dashing good looks and cutting-edge performance don’t have to come at a steep price, and for scholars heading back to school this fall, there’s only a handful of machines that strike this trifecta.

And Gateway’s ID series — embodied here in its ID49C07u — has all three. Specs include an Intel Core i3 at 2.26 GHz, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500-GB hard drive. Performance is impressive for a sub-$1,000 unit. While gaming chops are basically nonexistent, general app performance is on par with machines that cost twice as much. There’s no Blu-ray on this unit — and only Intel’s integrated HD graphics — but those are trade-offs worth the uber-affordable $680 price tag.

No slouch in the looks department, the ID49 rocks a modern design, with a platform keyboard and, intriguingly, a track pad that illuminates from beneath when clicked. The gesture area is, unfortunately, a love-it-or-hate-it feature. The entire pad is one big button, depressing into the unit completely when you click on it. While it’s an interesting design choice, clicks require too much effort, and if you don’t have your fingers positioned over the very bottom of the pad, your clicks won’t register at all — although the pad will still depress and make a sound. The light-up effect can also be distracting when the machine is not in use (and the screensaver effects kick in).

The 14-inch (1366 x 768 pixels) wide-screen laptop manages to stay under five pounds while keeping battery life at 2 ¾ hours long and screen brightness exceptionally high. If your academic achiever is looking for a slightly smaller machine than the usual 15-incher — but still wants a machine that performs well and feels plenty spacious — Gateway’s ID series is full of win.

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