The Gateway MD7818u is part of a new affordable notebook line that shares most of its components with the high-style MC series. This notebook offers many of the same features as its more expensive brother; like the touch-sensitive hidden multimedia keys, classy styling, and excellent build quality. To lower the cost Gateway removed some features that not everyone needed, like the leather palmrest, all-glass display, and backlit keyboard. Does this new notebook still impress us as much as the MC7803u? Read our review to find out.
Gateway MD7818u Specifications:
Build and Design
Sharing the same body as the MC series notebook, the new MD series looks nearly identical inside and out. The only visible queues that someone familiar with both models would notice is the lack of quick launch program buttons on the left side of the keyboard, no leather palmrest, lack of backlit keyboard, and missing all-glass display. Internally they share the same chassis and alloy unibody and depending on the configuration it may or may not have a MXM dedicated graphics card. The body is built extremely well with a very durable feel and little flex. Fit and finish is excellent with no noticeable defects on our review unit.
The design is excellent, looking more like a designer notebook than previous Gateway models. The higher quality of the materials used combined with the modern design helps give this notebook a look that is usually only shared with models costing two or three times more. I like the contrasting silver and chrome trim around painted or brushed metal surface. The black glossy surface works well with the touch sensitive media buttons, completely hiding them with the lights turned off.
The 15.6” WXGA display is above average with a strong backlight for easy viewing in bright environments and great color saturation thanks in part to the glossy finish. The backlight is fairly strong with my preferred brightness setting being about 50-60%. Backlight evenness is average with only a hint of bleed through the bottom edge of the panel. Contrast is excellent at the optimum viewing sweet spot, but does get washed out slightly if you tilt the screen forward or back. Under normal day-to-day use I found the limited tilting movement of the display to be inconvenient. Most displays can be tilted back to the point of almost making the screen flat with the keyboard, but the way the hinge is designed on the MC and MD series notebooks you are limited to about 20 degrees of backward movement. Viewing angles were in line with most notebooks, with a wide horizontal viewing range but limited vertical viewing. As you tilt the screen forward the screen starts to look washed out, and leaning it back colors darken and invert.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is very comfortable to type on and is spread out well over the 16” frame of the notebook. Individual key thickness feels less than other notebooks from the odd flat shape of the key top, but it is much easier to type on than a Sony/Macbook style keyboard. Key presses are very smooth, with only a light touch needed to trigger a key. Audible feedback is minimal, with only a small click with each full press.
The large Synatpics touchpad is responsive and a breeze to move around on with a lightly textured matte finish. Sensitivity was great, easily tracking my finger with no discernible lag. The surface area is larger than most notebooks, but still falls short to the gigantic touchpad surfaces found on Apple notebooks. The buttons are wide and easy to hit with the side of your thumb while they give a mild soft click with shallow feedback.
One thing I find amazing on the MD and MC-series notebooks is the illumination on/off button they include. Using this button you can toggle the keyboard backlit (on the MC-series), turn off the touch sensitive media keys (disables them), and turn off everything else including the hard drive activity and power light. If you hate blinking or shining LEDs nothing beats a feature like this. If you are watching a movie the only source of light left is the screen.
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