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Gateway MC-78030u


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Gateway hasn’t exactly been known for its laptop designs in the past, but the MC Series is a potential game changer for the manufacturer. With an eye-catching lid, 16-inch widescreen (with 16:9 aspect ratio) glass display and backlit keyboard, the Gateway MC-7803U looks the part of a modern notebook and backs up those looks with pretty good Centrino 2 performance and decent graphics muscle performance. As long as you don’t mind carrying around a little extra weight and a slightly cramped keyboard layout, this $999 notebook will satisfy.

Head-Turning (But Hefty) Design

With the MC-78030u, Gateway dresses up the stock multimedia notebook in a new, attractive costume. Appearing less flashy than other systems like the HP HDX 16, Gateway went with a classic, automotive-inspired design. The cover has just the right level of gloss, offset with a synthetic black leather strip that runs vertically down the center of the lid. Our review unit’s cover was burgundy, but the consumer version of this model comes only in black. A brushed silver trim on the lid and around the edges of the chassis adds a black-tie look to the entire system.

At 7.8 pounds and 15.3 x 10.4 x 1.7 inches, the MC-78030u is a bit too large and heavy for anything but occasional travel. In fact, it’s more than a pound heavier than the Sony VAIO FW series , which also features a 16-inch, 16:9 display. The HP HDX, which features the same screen size, weighs 6.8 pounds. The MC-78030u is portable enough to tote around the house, but you won’t want to do it often.


The sleek design extends under the lid to the keyboard and touchpad. The brushed metal palm rest is comfortable and sleek. Surrounding the touchpad itself is a glossy frame that angles in towards the pad, which adds to the MC-78030u’s distinctive look without sacrificing much in the way of ergonomic comfort. Below are two large touch buttons that were quiet and easy to press. The touchpad on our unit provided just the right amount of friction, and the scroll bar on it was responsive and useful for scrolling through long Web sites.

The keyboard on the MC-78030u was quiet and comfortable, but Gateway sacrificed the size of some keys to make the layout a perfect rectangle. The right Shift key, for example, is noticeably smaller than on a typical mainstream notebook. and is backlit with a fluorescent orange coloring that doesn’t quite match the outer lid. While useful, we would have preferred a different color or simply a white backlight.

Backlit Touch Buttons Galore

Two panels of touch sensitive buttons flank the MC-78030u’s keyboard. They’re not quite in your face, but they subtly reminded us of landing lights. Starting beneath the Power button on the right are Video, Music, and Photo shortcut buttons for Windows Media Center. Below that is a shortcut button for the browser, and two more buttons for Windows Mail and your instant messaging program of choice. On the right side you’ll find the more typical Play/Pause, Stop, Fast-Forward, and Rewind buttons going from top to bottom. And below those is a volume control strip with a one-touch mute button beneath it.


These buttons, which control media playback on the right and shortcuts on the left, pulsate when pressed to show they’ve been activated. We found the buttons a little finicky—they responded only when pressed with the pad of our finger—but Gateway warned us of this since we tested a pre-production unit. (We’ll be updating this review once we have a final production sample.)

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