Gateway LT2120u: Style Meets Endurance

Your cross-country flight will land long before the $350 (as of March 23, 2010) Gateway LT2120u netbook needs to sip from the AC again. Built around Intel's CPU and integrated 3150 GPU, as well as sporting 1GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, and a 1024-by-600-pixel 10.1-inch display, the LT2120u lasted an impressive 9 hours, 40 minutes in our battery tests--no mean feat for a that's also a good performer.

Gateway styled the LT2120u largely in white with silver detail and trim, including the keyboard deck (the area in front of the keyboard containing the touchpad). Three USB ports are included, two of them positioned on the left side of the unit with the AC jack and VGA port, and the last on the right with the audio in/out and 10/100 ethernet port. The netbook also has a lock port on the right edge, as well as an SD slot for loading and saving files.

At 2.76 pounds, the LT2120u is hardly a featherweight, though it's about average for this category of netbook with a battery capable of this kind of run time. You can access the hard drive and memory module via screw-secured access panels on the bottom of the unit. Since the netbook has only one accessible memory slot, upgrading to 2GB to improve multitasking will require replacing the existing 1GB module. You'll also find a vacant miniPCI Express slot underneath the hard drive panel; if you have the need to add a Bluetooth or other card later on, you should be able to do so easily.

The LT2120u is relatively skilled at handling video. The Webcam's resolution is 640 by 480, and the videos we recorded with it ran smoothly. A drop-down Webcam utility is invoked when you mouse to the top of the screen (you can reconfigure this behavior). The LT2120 also played 720p HD WMV, QuickTime, and MP4 videos effortlessly through . Flash video and online Flash-based gaming stuttered noticeably, though.

Audio played through the LT2120u's speakers is strictly of the lacking-in-bass sort you find in nearly all portables. Over headphones, the sound quality was fine, and loud enough to be audible over airplane noise.

The keyboard on the LT2120u is large enough for most people to type on without having to scrunch their fingers. The majority of the keys are where you'd expect them, but the feel is a tad delicate. The design also has a ton of schmutz-trapping space surrounding them and even underneath them, so be careful with the crackers.