Gateway EC1803h: Netbook or Ultra-portable?

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Performance

So how fast is a Core 2 Solo anyway? We benchmarked the EC1803h against a Dell Vostro 1400 with a Core 2 Duo with the same clock speed (1.4GHz) and an Asus Eee PC 1005HA.

Test Results: Benchmarks
Test
Vostro 1400 (XP)
EC1803h (Vista)
Asus 1005HA (XP)
NOD32
9:50
11:14
16:25
WinRAR
5:14
5:38
11:12
iTunes
7:36
8:46
21:17
TMPGEnc
11:46
20:01
27:22
PCMark05
2941
2214
1668
3DMark05
656
979
268
3DMark06
487
603
124

In most of our timed benchmarks, the EC1803h trailed the Vostro by only a small amount. Only video encoding with TMPGEnc was significantly slower, but then again it is doubtful anyone would be using such a small device to encode video. The 1005HA lagged far behind in all the tests — it would seem that a Core 2 Solo is much closer to a Core 2 Duo in terms of performance rather than an Atom. The EC1803h beat the Vostro in 3DMark as it has a newer, faster IGP. The Vostro is almost two years old and is equipped with X3100 graphics.

After removing all the pre-installed software that came with the system (a slow process with a gratifying outcome), subjectively the overall responsiveness was surprisingly good — the SU3500 processor acquits itself nicely. Booting up Vista and installing programs were the only activities where it ran noticeably slower than a typical dual core machine. Its performance was good enough that we didn't feel the immediate need to to try XP or Windows 7. Compared to Atom-based netbooks, it feels turbocharged on many functions. We suppose over time, the operating system will eventually get bogged down, but even so Windows 7 is only a couple of months away, and the one good thing about the EC1803h shipping with Vista is that it qualifies for a free Windows 7 upgrade.

Battery Life

To test battery life in a semi-realistic way, we recreated two common uses for a device of this type: web surfing and movie watching. The screensaver, critical and low battery actions were disabled, so the system would simply shut down once the battery was exhausted.

For the web browsing test we loaded three websites into Firefox on separate tabs: Google News, Yahoo News, and CNN International. Using the ReloadEvery add-on, we set each tab to do a staggered reload every minute. This is essentially one page reload every 20 seconds. Bluetooth (if applicable) and WiFi were left on for obvious reasons.

For video playback we used an XVID encoded AVI (1324kbps video, 448kbps AC3 audio) played with VLC Player and a x264 encoded MKV (720p, 7mbps video, 640kbps AC3 audio) played with Media Player Classic Home Cinema (DXVA enabled). WiFi and Bluetooth were disabled during video playback.

Test Results: Battery Life
Time
Gateway EC1803h
Asus 1005HA
Web Browsing
6:09
8:18
Xvid Playback
4:24
6:34
x264 Playback
3:31
N/A
Charge Time
2:16
2:03

The EC1803h lasted about 6:09 during our web browsing test and 4:24 during Xvid playback, about 2 hours and change less than the 1005HA. 6 hours is a lot more than what a typical notebook delivers, and most netbooks aren't equipped with a 5600mAH battery like the 1005HA.



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