Netbooks have settled into a comfortable set of stock components, offering basic PC functionality for prices to no avail of even a few years ago. The typical setup of a 10-inch sight, Intel Atom N450 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Starter is simple to find for as modest as $299, and more than adequate for many tasks, from e-mail to surfing the Web.
But those low, low prices mean that PC makers are keen to upsell, and a handful of akin systems have twisted up, with better HD displays, more RAM, and even better CPUs and graphics capabilities, such as the Asus Eee PC1201, which pairs a better cover with Nvidia’s Ion GPU for what we sometimes call a “premium Netbook” encounter.
A recent logic to offer this mix of a modest more Netbook for a modest more money is the Gateway LT3201u. This 11.6-inch mainframe skips the typical Intel Atom for an AMD Athlon Neo II K125 PC. Even if still a single-core chip, AMD has permanently positioned the Neo as a better architect than the Atom, and all through early subjective hands-on use, that certainly seems to be the case. The LT32 also includes ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 graphics–still not a discrete GPU, but a small step up from the integrated Intel graphics found in most Netbooks.
Very near as vital to the end-user encounter is the 2GB of RAM (dual what’s in a typical Netbook) and the Windows 7 Home Premium in commission logic instead of the more run of the mill Windows 7 Starter Journal.
Note, even if, that we’re also early to see dual-core versions of AMD premium Netbooks, counting the Dell Inspiron M101z, which is even closer, but also more high-priced, crossing that vital psychological barrier of $500.
The point of the LT32 is reminiscent of the Acer Ferrari One, an exceptional 11-inch premium Netbook from earlier in 2010. That logic was even better, with a dual-core AMD CPU and 4GB of RAM, but it also cost near $600, putting it in solid mainstream mainframe territory. The Gateway LT32 is more practically priced. Gateway is item it for $449, but hopefully some adventurous retailer will sell it for $399, which would make it a fantastic $100 upgrade from entry-level Netbooks.
The large upright is typical of 11-inch Netbooks, and certainly simpler to type on, even if the wide, flat, closely packed keys felt a modest wobbly, primarily nearly the focal point of the upright. The touch pad is puny and made of the same notes as the rest of the wrist rest, demarcated only by a faint raised line. Like most contemporary mainframetouch pads, it includes some basic multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scrolling, but they were hard to use, fault to register much of the time. At least the left and rightmouse buttons are actual break buttons, skipping the awkward recent Gateway trend of using a single, thin rocker bar in place of buttons.
The 11.6-inch cover has a 1,366×768-pixel native pledge, the contemporary standard for near all laptops with 11- to 15-inch displays. It’s a useful midlevel pledge that allows one to play 720p HD video files with no loss of dependability, and doesn’t make the small 11-inch cover feel cramped.
One of the equipment we like most about this new breed of premium Netbooks is the inclusion of an HDMI productivity, useful for hooking up to a better sight. It very near makes up for the lack of Bluetooth; otherwise this is a standard set of ports and connections.
In our hands-on use, the LT32 felt like a certain step up from Atom-powered Netbooks. We spent less time staring at the growth Windows wait icon, and launching and switching between apps resulted in less hang time. Both the Neo PC and extra RAM liable play a part in this.
The Radeon graphics weren’t much for 3D games (even if some more-basic games are certainly playable; see our list of fantastic games for Netbooks for some examples), but HD video playback was fantastic, counting streaming Flash video in HD, a touch that trips up even Netbooks using Broadcom’sprecious stone HD video accelerator.
One area where the Intel Atom still has a clear subsidy is array life; the LT3201u lasted 3 hours and 28 minutes in our video playback array drain test. That’s nowhere near the 6-plus hours a vastly efficient Atom Netbook can get, but we got quicker to 4 hours in subjective use.
Gateway includes an industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the logic. As the company only sells systems through third-party retailers, total warranties of various types are available from the actual reseller, while a bespoke list of documentation and driver downloads is available by entering your series digit on Gateway’s help site. Gateway also has a terrible habit of hiding its toll-free help phone digit, which is 1-800-846-2301.
The Gateway LT32 excellent:
More commanding than Intel Atom Netbooks; practically priced; huge upright.
The Gateway LT32 terrible:
Still a single-core PC; not noteworthy touch pad and multitouch gesture reins.
The Gateway LT32 underside line:
Offering a modest more Netbook for a modest more money, the Gateway LT32 is a solid step up in power, cover size, and price.