Gateway EC1803h: Netbook or Ultra-portable?

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HDMI Output

Outputting the video signal via HDMI to our lab's 24" 1920x1200 monitor was effortless, and audio was piped in successfully to its stereo speakers. The image was clear without any distortion and looked fantastic when streaming a 1080p movie. As battery life is good enough to play a 3~4 hour movie in high definition, it makes a decent impromptu media extender, even without the AC power adapter.

Networking

The Intel WiFi Link 5100 AGN device worked very well with the Linksys wireless G router at SPCR labs. Windows networking was used. It automatically connected extremely quickly upon bootup or wake from sleep. The average speed was about 18mbps at 12'~30' distance from the router, which is slightly slower than the fastest wireless PC on this network in the past. It's far greater than the fastest web access speed, however.

The Atheros gigabit ethernet adapter functioned without issue as well. When transferring large files over the network through a D-Link gigabit switch, we saw transfer speeds of 40~45MB/s, though it sometimes peaked to just over 50MB/s, about as fast as the 5400RPM hard drive would allow.

Restore Options

Like most notebooks Gateway does not provide a proper Vista install disc. In fact, the EC1803h package was very bare with no discs and little support information. The hard drive has a hidden 10GB EISA partition which houses a Vista install, the stock drivers and applications. When the system is initially turned on, Vista deploys from this partition, and about an hour and a half goes by before the machine is ready to use.


Gateway Recovery Management screen. Partition map underneath.

Gateway's recovery software allows the creation of discs to restore the machine to its factory defaults. If you do not have an external DVD burner, a restore can be initiated through the software in Windows, or via a hotkey during the POST screen. As we would rather not have to go through the long process of removing all the bloatware after a restore, we opted instead to create an image of the operating system partition with Acronis True Image to be stored on a separate partition. To create the second partition, we ended up using GParted to shrink the original partition down to 40GB. Vista's Disk Manager would only let us resize it to a minimum of 150GB and we figured the extra space might come in handy one day.

Audio Recordings

  • Gateway EC1803h running on AC at 0.6m
    — fan off (18 dBA@0.6m)
    — fan set to low (20 dBA@0.6m)
    — idle (24 dBA@0.6m)
    — during Xvid playback (26 dBA@0.6m)
    — during x264 playback & full load (29 dBA@0.6m)



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