Making the Grade

The Gateway C-120X convertible notebook is a solid business machine at an attractive price point. It comes fully equipped with many of the features we’ve come to expect in a work machine: Intel Core 2 Duo processor (1.06GHz), 1024MB DDR2 memory, 80GB hard drive, wireless capabilities (802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth), a biometric fingerprint reader — and more. The more, in the case of our test machine, was a double-layer multi-format DVD writer (for an additional $49); port replicator ($179.99), and an additional lithium ion battery ($129.99).

The Windows XP/Vista-capable device gives users the ability to rotate the monitor in either direction from PC to tablet PC mode. But the 12.1-inch WXGA TFT active matrix display, while adequate, was a bit dull — colors tended toward the drab and murky. Additionally, we found that because the display did not lock into place when in PC mode (as it does in tablet mode); it had a tendency to flop backward into a flat position when it was picked up.

We also found setting up the biometric fingerprint ID a challenge. After several tries, the software did not recognize our swipes — do we slide our finger vertically or horizontally, swipe once or three times? We finally got the hang of it — and the system works well, but clearer instructions, particularly for those who may not have the benefit of an IT expert, would help.

We also tested the Gateway C-120X with office applications that a typical entrepreneur/small-business owner might use, such as the newest version of Sage Software’s ACT! Setup was quick and painless, and we zipped through our databases and contacts in no time. The C-120X also ships with Microsoft Works 8.5. (www.gateway.com; $1,499.99.)

PROS: Good security via biometric ID system
CONS: Rotating hinge does not lock into place in PC mode; dull display

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