At my local best buy I have been eying a particular Gateway Laptop; the FX series 7811.
It recently went clearance there and at my store they are ringing up at 783.99!!! Be aware, the prices seemed to vary with every store in the district.
Anyway I snagged the machine as with the specs it seemed like a steal at that price.
Upon first opening the laptop and setting it up (there was not a display model) I grew pretty cold to the looks. Faux Carbon Fiber, Aluminum and gaudy orange painted accents along the keyboard and side trim; though I do enjoy the orange lights as they are easy on the eyes when gaming. Another quirk is the off-center mouse pad which could be moved over an inch or two, as I type this review I'm finding that I occasionally move the cursor to see sentences jumbled up together. This is something I will probably get used to, but its an odd design choice. My last gripe about the Keyboard is the smaller arrow keys; since the mousepad is clearly out of the way they definitely had room to move the keys down and make them normal size. After all the complaints about it the feel is good, keys click nicely and the WASD keys are labeled with arrows for movement which is a nice touch.
This machine is big, obviously as its a 17 incher! But the weight for the size isnt terribly bad; around 9lbs. Its got a great array of ports 3 usb, 1 firewire, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, RJ11, E-Sata as well as an SD/XD/MS/MMC card reader and a Expresscard slot.
The computer did have its share of bloatware pre-installed but it wasn't terribly bad, at least gateway doesn't try to use a different wireless management system than the one built into vista 64. The only really semi-usefull bundled software is DVD burning and labeling software....if you don't have better already.
I bought it for a laptop to run games and have installed Crysis Warhead/Wars, L4D and COD5. First the Screen just looks great while you are gaming, its sharp and accurate colors but there is some color banding that is visible (in solid areas, and very slightly in Photoshop). This laptop impressively eats games for lunch and loves it! Left 4 Dead plays flawlessly @ native res (1900x1200) with all settings maxed out and no AA. There is no slowdown even when playing online fighting hordes of zombies with my buddies visible and running around.
COD likewise plays great with everything turned up, though I have to admit I haven't gotten as far as I would like to be in this game because of Fallout3 and L4D.
Onto Crysis Warhead...well this game is more of a mixed bag. Some levels run great @ gamer settings while later ones (the snow level comes to mind) chugs and likes to be taken down to mainstream; and this is not at native resolutions, its running at 1680x1050.
While running games with the laptop on my lap, the exhaust can get scorchingly hot and could burn if you are wearing shorts. Also I've had the system completely freeze after playing for 1hr or so a couple of times. I dont blame this on the computer so much as it was on my lap and couldn't get a ton of airflow. While Playing on a desk it hasn't frozen yet.
One complete charge of the battery seems to be enough to run through an Episode of L4D online...about 50 minutes worth of gaming or about two and a half hours of net surfing/movie watching.
Overall I couldn't be more pleased. For the Price I paid there is absolutely nothing that can touch it. My only worry is that it is a gateway...but only time will tell the test of reliability. In my GeekSquad we haven't seen any FX units come back, but I know only a relatively small amount were sold.
RATINGS out of 10:
Ergonomics: 7 - Off Set Mouse pad kills it for me as well as the smaller arrow keys. USB port on the right side could be moved further back. Top Media Buttons are very functional and look good.
Design: 7 - Fake Carbon Fiber doesnt look good on cars or laptops. Could do without orange accents. But overall design is functional and clean.
Performance: 9.5 - I couldn't really ask more from a laptop without spending thousands of dollars. This is an amazing machine for the price, it blazes through games and multimedia tasks with ease. Hard drive is very speedy and much quieter than I thought. Speakers are actually very nice for a lappy as well, though not up to Qosmio standards.
Overall: 9.0 - This is a great machine for what it was intended to be; an inexpensive gaming laptop or desktop replacement. Only big coms are that is seems to freeze because of lack of airflow if you play games on your lap. The battery is not outstanding but it is good for the size and power of the laptop. HDMI output is a big plus for me as I will use this on my bedroom TV; a BluRay player would have been icing on the cake.