Gateway's MT3104b ticks boxes for both affordability and portability, so if those are your deciding factors, this could be the laptop for you.

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The Gateway MT3104b looks relatively sleek and, while lightweight, is durably built. The case is scratch-resistant, while the aluminium palm rest is sophisticated and sturdy.

The keyboard is comfortable to use, but the touchpad is rather unresponsive and the cursor occasionally jumps across the screen. Multimedia applications run fairly well using the 1.73GHz Intel Celeron M Processor 430 and 512MB of memory, and a 80GB hard drive is what you'd expect from a laptop costing twice as much. The ports and connectors aren’t as wide-ranging as they are on the more expensive laptops, but you still get a trio of USB ports, 802.11b/g wireless and a 4-in-1 digital media reader.

Graphics are taken care of by an integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200M controller, but the Gateway's performance in our gaming tests was far from smooth, even on ageing titles such as Doom3. The laptop also didn't perform particularly well in our WorldBench processing-speed tests.

Its 14.1in Ultrabright WXGA TFT has a poor resolution, making the screen slightly blurry and text particularly hard to define compared with the likes of the Evesham C720DC. But you shouldn't expect too much from such a low-priced laptop, and the audio setup is pretty good.

The Gateway supports a wide range of disc formats, making it a suitable choice if you're looking to record, play and burn films, music and photos. And it was extremely impressive in our MobileMark 2002 battery-life tests, lasting for nearly three hours.

Lightweight, compact and portable, the Gateway would suit business users who don't require amazing graphics performance. But if you want a desktop replacement, it isn't ideal - it would struggle with games and the small screen is unsuitable for film playback.

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Gateway MT3104b: Specs

  • 1.73GHz Intel Celeron 430 processor
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 80GB hard drive
  • 14.1in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 0MB ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics card
  • 8x/8x/4x/4x/8x/8x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g
  • 1-year parts-and-labour warranty
  • 330x240x36mm
  • 2.37kg
  • 1.73GHz Intel Celeron 430 processor
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 80GB hard drive
  • 14.1in 1,280x800 TFT display
  • 0MB ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics card
  • 8x/8x/4x/4x/8x/8x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g
  • 1-year parts-and-labour warranty
  • 330x240x36mm
  • 2.37kg

OUR VERDICT

It may not provide the best graphics performance, but the Gateway offers a lot for just under £400. If you're looking for a lightweight laptop to use on the move, you could do a lot worse.

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