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Widescreen Notebooks: More Than Just Expensive DVD Players?

Gateway M460XLb

The Gateway M460XLb with 134Wh dual-battery system.

Gateway USA sent us an M460XLb notebook from the company's new M460 series that is equipped with two batteries. In contrast to competitors, Gateway only offers 15.4" display with WXGA resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. This corresponds to a horizontal resolution of 98dpi, meaning that the edges of icons and fonts do not look as razor-sharp compared to the competition.

Case And Connections

The bi-color black and silver case design looks slender and elegant with its relatively thin profile of a mere 1.5"/3.8 cm thickness. It does not make the same impression of stability and quality as the Acer and Dell products though. The M460XLb's big 12-cell 95Wh battery protrudes about 0.8"/2 cm over the case surface in the back.

High capacity requires more space: the 95Wh battery sticks out about 0.8"/2cm over the edge of the case.

According to the manufacturer, with M460s with only six or eight-cell batteries, the battery remains flush with the back of the case.

The VGA connection is found on the back of this mobile PC

The majority of ports and connections including a 4-in-1-card reader are located on the right side of the unit. Gateway is one of only few notebook makers to indulge the luxury of protecting the PC card slot with a dust-protection shutter.

Loss-proof, practical solution: dust-protection shutter over the PC card slot.

The two audio connections are conveniently placed at the front of the notebook.

Convenient: audio connections on the front.

The multi-format DVD burner sits in a module bay off to the left. This can be changed out in favor of the 6-cell 52Wh battery that is included in the package.

The multi-format DVD burner and S-VHS output are on the left side.

The display hinges are a little bit stiff. As a result, you have to hold the machine in both hands to change the angle of the screen. Otherwise it might fall over backwards. The 90- Watt power supply is relatively small and lightweight for the performance it affords, but does not feature anything for winding up the cable.

A Pre-programmed cable chaos: the power cable can't be wrapped and secured.

Gateway's rather cramped arrangement of the graphics processor, the CPU and the chipset has the big disadvantage that the casing heats up significantly underneath on the right side.

The cooling system of the M460XLb: the waste heat from the CPU, graphics processor and the Northbridge is conducted over to an active cooler via two heat pipes.

Working with the machine placed on your lap is going to get fairly uncomfortable sooner or later. Relatively high temperatures of 35°C/95°F are also common on the top in the area of the right hand rest too. Hand rest warming was only minimal with competing products - Dell's temperature was 75°F/24°C and Acer's was 82°F/27°C. Additionally, we noticed that the cooling concept in place has a negative impact on the M460's noise factor. Whereas the Acer and Dell protagonists don't so much as make a peep during office operation, with Gateway the fan keeps turning on every now and again. The M460's "fan controls" seem to allow only off or on modes. Variable fan rpms based on system load appear not to be an option.