Most helpful positive review
106 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Manage your expectations, and the Gateway NE56R41u is a solid value.
on June 26, 2013
IN A NUTSHELL: This laptop is priced low, it meets all the basic needs, and it even has a few nice touches. If it were a car, it would be a silver and black, 2011 Kia Forte.
BACKGROUND: I bought this laptop as a dirt-cheap refurb from a short-term deal site. We use it as a family laptop in a multi-computer household. Here's what I think of it.
Price. It's cheap. Given that it's so cheap ...
Performance: It's good. It works well with Kingsoft Office and Open Office (both free and compatible with MS Office). It handles big files. It streams HD videos from Amazon Prime and YouTube smoothly. It grabbed my wireless network tenaciously, hauling in a solid signal throughout the house. It plays youth-appropriate online games including kludge-y educational modules connected to the school district.
Keyboard: The keyboard feel isn't up to ThinkPad standard. But it's better than most, with a slightly dulled clicky feel, decent keystroke travel, OK spacing, and no flex. It is quite quiet. It is not backlit, and the white-on-black keys and thin font may confound hunt-and-peck typists in dim lighting. Neat features include the numeric keypad that doubles as a full-sized cursor arrow array. There are also half-sized dedicated cursor arrows and one-touch/two-touch keys. The social media launch key makes me smile, offering more affirmation than I'm likely to get from actual social media.
Touchpad: It has a nice feel. It supports multi-touch gestures, and has an up/down scrollbar on the right edge. The single left/right click bar feels solid and positive. The touchpad is centered on the typing keyboard, which prevents you from hitting it with your right palm while you work.
Not too much pre-installed software: Just a few things to get rid of and the usual things to install.
Display: It's one of those "Tru-Brite" screens that reflect glare, white walls, light fixtures, your face, you name it. I've never understood why a device intended to be portable would have a display best suited to staying very still in a darkened room. Still, for its type, it's better than many others.
Windows 8: This is the first machine I've used with Windows 8. It'll take getting used to, but here's the big hint: think "tablet" or "smartphone." Win 8 is actually pretty intuitive, which is unusual enough that it sort of isn't intuitive if you're used to previous versions of Windows. It was easy to set up user accounts with age-appropriate restrictions.
HDMI: A lot of low-end laptops lack this. But this laptop has it, so I can stream content to my TV.
USB: There are three USB 2.0 ports, all located on the sides, toward the front of the machine where flash drives and connections interfere with paperwork.
Camera: Its webcam shows a lot of background. Skype video calls were fine, with clean images, good sound, and adequate volume.
Speakers: They're OK. With the volume set to maximum the sound is harsh but not super loud.
Battery life: No problem working all day on ordinary school/office tasks.
Construction quality: Better than I expected for the price, a marvel of cost engineering. Fit and finish are tight, and the keyboard, I/O jacks, and hinges feel solid.
Indicator lights: There's only one indicator light up top, a blue light on the power button. In addition, there are four tiny indicator lights along the front edge. There are no NUM LOCK or CAPS LOCK lights.
Appearance: The Gateway NE56R41u looks business-like with a black keyboard, silver trackpad and palm rest, and a glossy, slightly metallic gray top that attracts fingerprints.
UPDATE AFTER A FEW MONTHS OF USE: The laptop continues to perform well (and remember, there are four people sharing it on an occasional basis, including two kids, so although the total hours of use might be less than that of a single user, the amount of wear and tear is exponentially greater). The kids found it easy to customize their accounts, and move easily between this laptop, a desktop running Windows 7, and a truly ancient laptop running XP (!). Finally, the more I play around with Windows 8, the more I like it.