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Widescreen Notebooks: More Than Just Expensive DVD Players?

Display: Not Enough Torsion Resistance

The 15.4" display of the M460XLb provides native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. This format is also known as WXGA for short. The brightness is ok at 191.5 cm/m². With black/white contrast of 710:1, its screen specifications even beat those of the Dell Inspiron 6000d. The color rendition is quite vivid, and the brightness uniformity was only average. The device we tested in any event had a slightly darker patch in the lower third of the screen near the right edge. Eight levels for display brightness are completely sufficient for all practical purposes. Another interesting thing is that the display's brightness and speaker volume settings are shown as an on-screen display (OSD).

One special feature is that the BIOS projects brightness and volume status directly onto the display, independent of the operating system and without a driver

Dell also uses an OSD too, but one based on a Windows application, while Gateway does it without recourse to any explicit Windows driver. This precludes the possibility of games or video applications becoming disrupted or even crashing just because users want to adjust the brightness while applications are running.

Gateway deploys a Mobility Radeon X600 graphics chip. The MRX600 is ATI's first PCI Express graphics chip, out now for one year. Seen as the legitimate successor to the old AGP chip, the MR9700 , it likewise has four pixel pipeline and two vertex shaders, but unlike its predecessor has a 128 bit memory interface.

The M460 uses an X600 from ATI as its mobile graphics card.

The core of the MRX600 installed within the M460XLb runs on 400 Mhz, and the 128 MB of video memory does its work at 500 MHz (DDR). We would point out that the MRX600 is manufactured using the 130-nm low-K process, whereas the MRX300 is made with a 110-nm process technology, as is the case with Dell's Inspiron 6000d. The core of both chips is otherwise identical. The higher performance of the MRX600 is simply the result of the higher clock speeds possible due to the chip's being produced with 130-nm low-K process technology.

VGA And TV Outputs

The signal quality of the VGA outputs is coequal with the Dell Inspiron. With a resolution of 1600x1200 pixels and a refresh rate of 85 Hz, the picture looks clear and sharp.

Like its competitors, Gateway's product has a Hosiden S-VHS output allowing the monitor signal to be played on televisions. We did not observe any significant differences in settings options or video signal versus the other products.