Gateway ID47HO2: Good Looks and Feel

Why any company would take a sleek, good-looking, decent-performing laptop and name it the ID47HO2 is a mystery. But Gateway has, and it doesn't do its subject justice--by all-purpose laptop standards, the ID47HO2 is a definite cut above in appearance. It also has "good enough" performance and squeezes just over 7 hours of runtime out of its battery. Still, aesthetics and ergonomics are the real reasons you should consider buying this laptop.

Some of the ID47HO2's visual appeal stems from its low profile--it's only 1.13-inches thick, which isn't terrible for a budget 14-inch laptop. However, the minimalist design ethic scores points as well. There's no bling, the lines are clean, silver and gray is a classy color scheme, and even the touchpad is a clean looking one-piece rocker type that you press on the front corners to initiate button clicks. Said touchpad is nicely responsive to both finger swipes and clicks.

The keyboard is a chiclet type that's the same color as the keyboard deck. It has a nice feel, but the flat, unsculpted keys make for a little less secure finger placement when typing. Overall, the input ergonomics are first-rate. The 14-inch, 1366 by 768 display has a sharp picture, is evenly backlit, and delivers rich colors. However, it's covering is highly reflective and suffers more than a modest amount of glare under the wrong lighting conditions.

The ID47HO2 has at its heart an Intel -2410M, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB, 5400 RPM hard drive. Using these components it scored a competent 116 on PCWorld's test suite. Gaming frame rates are poor, only reaching playable frame rates at resolutions up to 1024 by 768 at low detail. Budget laptops without discrete graphics chips can't expect to do better. High resolution, high bit-rate video plays smoothly and even the sound through the speakers, using Dolby Home Theater, is better than average.

Ports include three USB (two USB 2.0, one ), VGA, HDMI, microphone and headphone jacks, as well as gigabit Ethernet, and a Kensington lock port. There's even a DVD-RW drive on board--the ID47HO2 achieves its low profile with a thin screen bezel. There's also a 1280 by 1024 Webcam and b/g/n 2.4GHz wireless.

The ID47HO2 runs 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, and bundled software includes several of the usual suspects: Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, Norton Online Security and Backup, and a Webcam utility. Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Essentials is included to support burning discs with the optical drive.