Gateway Mini Laptop – LT3103u

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The netbook industry didn’t receive enough media coverage back in 2009 due to the reason that this niche of mini laptops was just getting its act together. One of the interesting models that came out that year in this segment was the Gateway LT3103u. We’ve chosen this particular model due to the reason that most of the netbooks that came out that year had a 10-inch display while this one comes with a slightly bigger 11.1-inch screen.

Another aspect of this model that made it stand out was the AMD processor, unlike the vast majority of netbooks that came with the Intel Atom platform. When this mini laptop came out it carried a retail price tag of only $379 so it was a very affordable netbook. Under its hood there is an AMD Athlon 64 L110 processor clocked at 1.20 GHz which works combined with the 2GB of DDR2 RAM running at 667 MHz unlike most similar systems that had only 1GB of memory.

Gateway LT3103u (Source: static.trustedreviews.com)

Gateway LT3103u (Source: static.trustedreviews.com)

Moving on to the storage area, we find a 250GB SATA hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm, while the chipset is an AMD RS690E. In the graphics department it has been fitted with an ATI Radeon X1270 which offers only a modest level of performance. This netbook is running on Windows Vista Basic and has the following physical dimensions: 11.3 x 9 x 1.0 inches (W x D x H), while tipping the scales at just 3.3 pounds or 3.9 pounds if we take into account the AC adapter.

The Gateway LT3103u comes with a rather simple black design which although isn’t very attractive it manages to be appealing thanks to the industrial design that the company uses on its MD series of laptops. Even the vertical chrome accent bar located on the mini laptop’s lid is taken from its bigger siblings. It manages to be a more refined version of the 11-inch Acer Aspire One 751h, another top netbook from those days.

Gateway LT3103u (Source: farm4.staticflickr.com)

Gateway LT3103u (Source: farm4.staticflickr.com)

Open the LT3103u from Gateway and you will notice the matte black keyboard tray while the screen bezel has a glossy black finish. As for the wrist rest, this adopts an indented dot pattern that manages to be quite subtle. One of the best features of this netbook would have to be its wonderful keyboard which consists of flat-topped keys that have a generous size and feature attractive rounded corners. They have such a large size that even those who have really big fingers should enjoy using it. However, we are disappointed a little bit because this keyboard shows some signs of flex, but other than that it’s great.

As far as the touchpad sitting below is concerned, it has a decent size but we don’t like the thin rocker bar as we prefer to have discrete left and right mouse buttons. This touchpad offers limited support of multitouch gestures, including two-fingered pitch and photo zooming. However, performing these gestures can be a problem for some with big fingers as the size of the touchpad isn’t that big.

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

The Gateway LT3103u comes as we mentioned earlier with an 11.6-inch display that has a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, when most of the netbooks of those days had a modest 1,024 x 600-pixel resolution screen. The other 720p displays in netbooks offered in 2009 came at a higher price tag, like the Asus 1101HA ($40 more). You will notice a significant difference between these two resolutions so if you are on the market for a second hand netbook, try to find one that has a 720p display.

Regarding the ports and connectivity features offered by this Gateway netbook, we should mention that it has VGA out along with headphone and microphone jacks. For data transfer purposes it packs three USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader while in the networking area Gateway installed an Ethernet port and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi.

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

This was a fixed configuration mini laptop from Gateway so there weren’t any possibilities of changing with its hardware components. It comes with the usual array of ports and features but it doesn’t have the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi and also it lacks support for Bluetooth.

The biggest difference between this and other netbooks that came out that year relies in the AMD Athlon 64 L110 processor clocked at 1.20 GHz. As you would expect, this CPU from AMD managed to be considerably quicker than the Atom from Intel, being able to run the operating system faster and smoother. One of the reasons for this extra performance is due to the 2GB of RAM whereas most Intel Atom-based netbooks of 2009 came with just 1GB of memory.

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

Since it doesn’t have the Intel Atom processor, Gateway fitted this netbook with an integrated ATI Radeon X1270 GPU that is suitable for video viewing and doing some very light gaming. However, keep in mind that full screen HD videos have the tendency to stutter from time to time.

The weakest part of the Gateway LT3103u would have to be its disappointing battery which manages to last for about three hours in a video playback test. As you would expect, the Atom-powered netbooks are capable of lasting significantly more than that since Intel has worked a lot in making them power efficient. Even though the battery of this Gateway is not that bad, we have to take into consideration that netbooks have been developed mostly for on-the-go use so three hours is not enough, especially since rival models can hit the 5-hour mark.

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

Gateway LT3103u (Source: blogcdn.com)

This short battery life comes as a surprise if we look at the rather bulky 6-cell battery that sticks out from the back of the laptop, a battery which should have been able to provide more juice than that. Since it lasts about three hours in demanding video playback tests, you will probably be able squeeze about four hours during normal use, which might be enough if you don’t do a lot of travelling. Probably the most important factor that influences the battery in this Gateway is the AMD processor that needs a lot of energy to work.