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Gateway NV59C09u

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gateway NV59C09u is a laptop that's slightly thinner and lighter than the nearly identically configured NV5933u we reviewed recently, but to be honest it won't register to most people who aren't studying laptop lineups with a magnifying glass. A matte silver finish with a wavy lined pattern across the outer lid and inner keyboard deck is a little nicer looking than the older Gateway NV design, but by a small degree.

One design change in Gateway NV59C09u is a flatter lid hinge, making a leaner look at the back edge than the bulkier tube shaped hinge design of other NV laptops. The look inside is nice and clean : shiny black plastic around the inset glossy screen and keyboard, and a small mirrored strip above the keyboard that houses a narrow power button. The keyboard and touchpad have been redesigned on Gateway NV59C09u, to mixed results : the wide, flat keyboard is still technically flat versus raised, but the spaces between keys have been widened to create a bit of a raised key effect, even though the gaps are recessed.

It makes the keys slightly more comfortable, but the chances of crumbs and gunk falling down between keys seem like an annoying inevitability. We do appreciate the dedicated volume keys above the adjoining number pad, a move we wish more laptops would include. There's also an interesting "social media" key that looks like little smiling people, which brings up Gateway's software app for glomming Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites together. This isn't anything that programs like Digsby don't already do, but it's nice to see it so effortlessly integrated.

The touchpad is delineated only by thin raised lines on the keyboard deck otherwise, it's basically an extension of the rest of the palmrest surface. We like a more recessed, dedicated touchpad zone, but it worked fine all the same, with a decent surface area comparable to other NV models. The button bar is flush and a rocker bar (we prefer two discrete buttons), but it's a step better than the overdesigned, annoying thin mirrored strip on the lower end Gateway NV models.

Oddly, however, the new design looks cheaper. The LED-backlit 15.6 inch glossy display on the Gateway NV59C09u has a 16:9 aspect ratio and a native resolution of 1.366x768, which is standard for most laptops up to 15 inches. At this size, we've seen higher-res displays the lower resolution is a bit of a disconnect with the included Blu-ray drive and for the not bargain basement cost of $799, we were a little surprised the resolution didn't get bumped up to at least 1.600x900.

Blu-ray discs looked good, but not distinctly better than a good DVD player experience. To really show off your discs, you'll probably want to go through the HDMI out port. Above the screen, a high-def Webcam offers video conferencing and picture taking capabilities, with a maximum resolution of 1.280x1,024. This is one of the few upgrades from Gateway NV59C09u, which could record VGA quality video only. We appreciate the spec bump, and the quality is better than average for laptop Webcams.

Skype software is preinstalled along with a large collection of other programs we're not sure we need Gateway to load on for us. The integrated speakers located above the keyboard and under thin black mesh grilles that too easily trapped small dust particles have better than average volume and bass for movie watching, but are really no better than other NV laptop speakers we've tried. They're good enough and certainly loud enough for video watching, music, and Web chat, but they're not knockouts sonically.

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