Gateway is back in the UK with the Gateway NO50, a feature-packed and solid 15in laptop.

After disappearing from the UK market eight years ago, Gateway is back - this time focused exclusively on selling business computers. The Gateway NO50 is unashamedly a plain business machine, an old-school brick of a laptop tipping the scales at almost 3.1kg. But you do get plenty of technology for the similarly weighty price of £1199.

Starting with the processor, our sample of the Gateway NO50 was fitted with an Intel 2.66GHz T9550 processor, backed up with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. That speedy combination helped the Gateway NO50 along to an impressive 106 points in our WorldBench 6 benchmark test.

A dedicated graphics processor, an ATI Mobility HD 3470, inspired us to try a gaming graphics test, where the Gateway NO50 proved it could play FEAR at 13fps at Max quality.

Set to Medium quality, the Gateway NO50 could play at a seamless 48fps average, without once dropping below the 25fps minimum.

For corporate customers who don't need the 3D graphics capability, you can also order it with a simple Intel GMA 4500HD GPU, saving some cash and almost certainly extending battery life too.

A big 9-cell battery in the Gateway NO50 promises a useful reserve of power, but MobileMark 2007 highlighted that high-performance parts - which include a 7200rpm 250GB hard drive - come at the cost of unplugged runtime. Nevertheless, we hit 4hrs 9mins using our standard Productivity test.

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The fitting of an anti-glare matt screen on the Gateway NO50 would normally be cause for rejoicing these days, although we found that the 15.4in high-resolution LCD was of decidely low contrast and even poorer brightness.

Considering how we often struggled to read from this screen when set to full brightness, we'd imagine that after a few years when it inevitably dims further, this could be a serious cause for concern.

Users of IBM/Lenovo laptops will feel right at home on the Gateway NO50 with its keyboard-sited trackpoint pointy device, with associated left/right buttons immediately below the space bar. This setup is joined by a regular trackpad below that, with its own positive-clicking mouse buttons flanking a fingerprint reader.

Overall build of the Gateway NO50 is rather solid, using matt-finish black plastic throughout. And with such fittings as ExpressCard and PC Card slots, plus a multi-format memory card reader and separate digital and analogue video outputs, you'll have almost all connection options covered.

FireWire and eSATA are the only obvious portage omissions on the Gateway NO50. There is a dual-band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11n wireless card though, which will be increasingly useful in the future as more 11n network routers offer the higher frequency connection option.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Gateway NO50: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9550
  • 1066MHz FSB
  • 15.4in (1680x1050) matt LCD display
  • Microsoft Windows Business
  • 250GB 2.5in 7200rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 with 512MB RAM
  • DVI-D and VGA video out
  • DVD±RW DL tray-load drive
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11a/b/g/draft-n dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Bluetooth
  • multi-card reader
  • ExpressCard 54
  • PC Card slot
  • mic-in, headphone out
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic
  • webcam
  • 9-cell 7200mAh li-ion battery
  • 360x267x34-37mm
  • 3.09kg
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9550
  • 1066MHz FSB
  • 15.4in (1680x1050) matt LCD display
  • Microsoft Windows Business
  • 250GB 2.5in 7200rpm SATA HDD
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 RAM
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 with 512MB RAM
  • DVI-D and VGA video out
  • DVD±RW DL tray-load drive
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11a/b/g/draft-n dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Bluetooth
  • multi-card reader
  • ExpressCard 54
  • PC Card slot
  • mic-in, headphone out
  • stereo speakers
  • built-in mic
  • webcam
  • 9-cell 7200mAh li-ion battery
  • 360x267x34-37mm
  • 3.09kg

OUR VERDICT

It may be solid and hefty but there’s no escaping that this Gateway has all the bovine finesse of the brand’s chosen motif. We were also underwhelmed by the murky screen quality. Speed and overall performance can’t be faulted, though, letting businessmen crunch spreadsheets in no time. However if you’re looking for an easy-to-carry notebook with innovative flair, this is not the laptop for you.

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