Gateway CX200X Review

Gateway CX200X
“The convertible feature makes a nice oddity, but is not that useful in day to day life.”
Pros
  • Nice looking; crisp LCD; tablet functionality
Cons
  • Bulky design; single screen swivel; some screen glare

Summary

The Gateway CX200X is, as the company describes, targeted towards consumers who seek a full-featured notebook PC combined with pen input functionality. While the CX200X certainly delivers in this regard, it is extremely hampered by its bulky size and weight which make it less than desirable to cradle for too long when in tablet mode. Marks are good for performance and features however, helping to keep this convertible from the scrap heap

Features and Design

The external look of the Gateway CX200X initially suggests you are looking at a 14″ notebook. The 13.58″ x 11.14″ x 1.22 – 1.36″ frame of the body is made of magnesium and other durable materials, giving this tablet PC a solid, distinguished look. The laptop opens via a magnetic latch which, despite a report or two of not sealing properly when the screen is pushed down, provided a secure way of holding the screen in place when in tablet mode.

Along the front lower portion below the latch lip are the speakers, headphone output, microphone input, the stylus slot and a 7-in-1 media card reader (Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMedia Card, Secure Digital, miniSD, RS-MMC and XD-Picture). On the left panel are VGA input, an Ethernet port, three USB 2.0 ports, an AC input, an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port and a Type II PC Card slot. The right panel houses the telephone jack and also the removable modular “hot swap” bay, which on the review model contained an 8x multi-format double layer DVD writer.

On the main front side sits a full sized QWERTY keyboard and a mouse touch pad with uneven sized left and right selection buttons and a scrolling touch option.

As for the LCD, the CX200X is equipped with a 14″ WXGA TFT active matrix display (1280 x 768) which the company says is the industry’s first widescreen of this type. The display has buttons on the lower left which control orientation of the picture, bring up the Windows Task Manager, bring up Windows Journal and control/navigate through various screen related controls such as brightness. On the lower right corner is the power button.

The display rotates on a single reinforced alloy hinge anchored in magnesium. The hinge, while feeling secure, could potentially be bumped hard enough to knock off the LCD. While the single alloy hinge is a nice idea, double hinges or another more secure method would have been preferred.

Weight of the tested unit is approximately 6.75 pounds. This, coupled with the dimensions mentioned earlier, make the CX200X somewhat unwieldy when cradled in one’s arm in tablet form. While it is understood that the weight and measurements were needed to accommodate the screen size, it may be a turn off to those looking for a smaller notebook.

The test CX200X sent to us came internally equipped with an Intel M Processor 740 (1.73 GHz) with a 915GM chipset, 512 MB of DDR2 533 MHz SDRAM, a 60 GB 5400 RPM SATA hard drive, the previously mentioned 8x DVD+-R/+-RW/CD-RW writer, the previously mentioned 7-in-1 memory card reader, an integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900, a standard 8-cell Lithium-Ion battery, an integrated V.92 56K modem, an integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet part and an integrated 802.11 b/g wireless networking card.

Software which comes pre-installed on the CX200X includes Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005, Microsoft Works 8.0, Microsoft Experience Pack, Microsoft Education Pack and Microsoft Office OneNote.

Accessories which come with the CX200X include the stylus for writing on screen, an AC adapter, quick start guide, battery, screen cleaning cloth, manuals and software CDs.

Gateway CX200X
Image Courtesy of Gateway

Setup and Use

In laptop configuration, the CX200X performed decently. The full size keyboard and widescreen monitor are welcome features for those mobile warriors used to smaller notebooks. Applications ran as advertised and there was little, if any, issues with overall function or design.

Such was not the case when the CX200X was locked into tablet mode. Though the stylus was comfortable in hand and translated hand motions into on screen commands most of the time with ease, the weight of the device when cradled became too heavy after awhile to be useful. Also, glare on the screen became a factor with lights overhead when trying to view a video clip or read a message.

It should be noted that if you’ve never used Windows XP Tablet Edition before, expect a learning curve. It feels fairly different then what you are used to with a keyboard and mouse. Microsoft provides an on-screen tutorial which should definitely be consulted.

Performance tests of the CX200X found the tablet placing well in most regards, especially for multimedia benchmarking.  A battery life test with the laptop sitting idle netted four hours and forty minutes of time. This comes in just under Gateway’s projected five hours of life, which is plenty of time for most standard usages such as word processing and email.

Conclusion

Gateway would have you believe the CX200X is ideal for consumers in taking handwritten notes, editing documents and enjoying entertainment applications. While these activities are certainly possible, the laptop’s bulky size and weight when converted to tablet mode make it undesirable to use as such. The convertible feature makes a nice oddity, but is not that useful in day to day life. As a full featured notebook, the CX200X is up there in the rankings however and helps to balance out other shortcomings.

Pros:

    • Stylish looks
    • Good performance rankings
  • Crisp display

Cons:

    • Too bulky to cradle in arm in tablet mode
    • Single swivel hinge on screen
  • Some glare on screen