Gateway MX8716b Regina SK

Most desktop replacement notebooks aren't goliaths like Toshiba's Qosmio. This slender model from Gateway is only a touch heavier than many 15.4in notebooks.

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Gateway MX8716b

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Most desktop replacement notebooks aren't goliaths like Toshiba's Qosmio. This slender model from Gateway is only a touch heavier than many 15.4in notebooks. However, it has a larger 17in screen and a numeric keypad.

Compared to a 15.4in display, this 17in screen is obviously better for watching DVDs, simply because of its greater size. It also has a high native resolution of 1,440x900 pixels. This gives you around 26 per cent more screen space than most 15.4in displays, which is very handy when using applications that have lots of windows and toolbars.

The MX8716b has a good display for a notebook at this price. It's fairly bright and evenly lit, and whites are displayed without any coloured tint. Our greyscale test wasn't displayed perfectly, but we've seen far worse from budget notebooks. It's a good display for the money, and shouldn't hamper you in any task.

The notebook's chassis looks far more stylish than its price would suggest. It also feels robust and doesn't flex when put under pressure. The keyboard, however, flexes when you type. This deadens the feedback you get from your keystrokes, which tends to slow you down and cause you to make mistakes. The touch pad has a nice slick surface and the buttons are slightly recessed so you don't catch them accidentally.

The speakers on the front of the notebook are better than most built-in ones. They don't sound muffled and are capable of a reasonable volume, although they tend to distort when turned right up. If you really want to enjoy your music you'll still need to buy a decent set of speakers.

It has all the ports you're ever likely to need, with four USB2, FireWire, a memory card reader and a CardBus slot. There's no digital video output, though, with just D-sub and S-video instead.

Inside the chassis a 120GB hard disk provides adequate storage, although it's a pity that a larger 160GB disk wasn't fitted. It comes with Windows Vista Home Premium installed, which includes extras such as the Aero 3D desktop and Windows Media Center that aren't in the Home Basic version.

The MX8716b performed respectably in our benchmarks. However, it isn't noticeably quicker than many notebooks in this month's notebooks Labs test.

In our light usage battery test the MX8716b managed a respectable two hours and 44 minutes, which is enough for a couple of hours of web surfing. The integrated Intel graphics chipset isn't suitable for games.

This notebook has a nice display and it feels well made, which is a good basis for an award-winning notebook. However, the keyboard could be better and our £500 notebooks in this month's Labs have near identical performance.

System Specifications

1.73GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5300, 2GB RAM, 120GB hard disk, Intel GMA 950 graphics, DVD+/-RW +/-DL drive, 17in LCD widescreen, 3.1kg

Author: Seth Barton

Computer Shopper Online