Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gateway LT3100 Review - Unboxing, Setup, and Use

Here comes the first, as far as I can tell, review of the Gateway LT3100 netbook, to grace the internet. Some have company stats, but no one has used it, and then conveyed to us all the experience of such a system. If they had, this probably wouldn't be here right now.

Bear with me for a moment, as I pretend to become a tech blog. For my world travels, I will need a netbook. I will require something that can get me on the internet, and hopefully act as a device to back up my photographs. With this in mind I headed out and bought what I thought would be the perfect solution to all my travel troubles:

Gateway LT3100 Netbook. (3108h to be exact.)
Now, I’m going to put everything in context for you, because all reviews need context. They frame the mindset of the whole experience, which often can convey bias. Bias will be shown here – but the facts still remain the facts.

The Stats
The Gateway LT3100 is the first next generation netbook. It offers a 250gb hard drive, and 2gb of ram. This is something unavailable from any other make and model. Picking it up, it felt rather light as well – an added bonus.

The Purchase (Feel free to skip all this to get to the Review)
There I was in Best Buy, waiting and waiting for someone to come and help me. But no, they were all looking at some college kids laptop in the geeksquad area. They had no time for me. And, apparently, no idea how to fix the kids laptop. they recommended he just buy a new one. Please, oh please, listen to me. Never take your computer to get fixed at a place that would rather sell you a new one. With twenty minutes to an hour, I could have had that kids computer up and running for him. It was only two years old! And as we all know, laptops don’t die until they reach their third birthday – then they’re probably over the hill.

So there I was waiting. Finally, after failing at direct eye contact, I asked one of the blue-shirted goons who could help me if I wanted to buy this laptop right in front of me.

“Oh, I can help you, or one of the other sales members in blue shirts.”

I stood there waiting. Watching. Hoping. Nothing happened. Finally:

“Oh sorry, I’m lazy, and don’t really want to work. Plus I see a pretty girl in this section who I’d rather help, as my tech savy skills may be just what it takes to get her to ask me out, so we can spend all night fornicating, and wouldn’t that be so much better than helping your bearded self buy a computer, as is my job. Now please, would you kindly screw off, for I have more female observation to do.” Although, in reality it sounded more like, “Oh sorry, I’m with another customer. That man across the store will help you.”

That man across the store was with a customer. He said he’d be with me in a moment, and after finishing helping the customer promptly left to help someone else buy a CRT to VGA converter.

I returned defeated. An elderly man, the only type of employee who takes their job seriously at Best Buy (I appreciate the no commission rule – but my god, at Future Shop, they’d be killing themselves to help me out!), finally went to grab me the Netbook I wanted (but only after admonishing me when I called it a Laptop. I mean – come on.)

With laptop in hand, the perverted hunter returned to me: Oh I see someone helped you. That’s great.

Bonus Fees (Keep Skipping – the Review is Ever so Close)
“Screw you buddy, right here!” I thought, but fine – I had my purchase, and… $2.14 cent Environmental Handling Surcharge?! What the crap is this. Oh – well I guess the government is trying to get us to be more green. Wait, it’s not a government thing? And no one knows – really – where the money is going? Great. Time to go home and set up the laptop.

The Review (you’ve made it!)

Initial Setup Time
From unboxing to Vista being fully installed the computer took 1.5 hours to get ready. Now, some would think this would drive one insane. But no, in that time I was able to watch a Jon and Kate Plus 8 marathon. (…yes, I know – the insanity came on stron.g During the first 20 minutes of loading the computer, I detested the show… but now?) Finally, as it logged in for the last time, allowing me access to the sweet sweet Vista OS I remembered that I’d need to uninstall a lot of pre-packaged software, like the Norton Trial, the Gateway Games (each needing to be checked off and removed on their own,) and most disastrously the trial of Microsoft Office.

Honestly, with OpenOffice.org out there, who would pay hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Office? And why give me a 60 day trial with it? Whose brilliant idea was that? So off it went.

Then, a paralyzing halt. The system froze. The uninstall was not complete. The computer crashed.

Yes – trying to uninstall MS Office caused a terrible crash from which there would be no return. I had to restore the entire computer to its factory mode. This meant repeating the entire 1.5 hour process I had just gone through. Although this time, just to be different, it took closer to 2 hours. Luckily for me, the epic tales of Jon and Kate were still ongoing.

Up and Running
The netbook performed quite well once I’d got it running again, and removed (with success) MS Office. The screen is large, bright, and – so it’s quite heavy with the battery attached, that’s fine – well, it’s just pretty. I was quite happy with my product. It was up on the internet, although I had to set the wifi settings manually because it couldn’t accurately determine what type of security my network was using. But still – no real problem, I got that going just fine.

Why I loved this computer with its touch pad, and its full sized keyboard, and its smooth processing speeds. The I unplugged it to move to a different room.

The Problems Begin
Never buy the first generation of new hardware. This is a rule I’ve always been told to abide. Never opt in first. Wait until the kinks are worked out, and oh the kinks there are.

To compensate for the battery power, the computer went into unplugged power saver mode. This made the system crawl, and made the process of dragging a cursor around the desktop a chore. But hey, I would get five hours of battery life out of this sucker. Sure it would take that long to open firefox – but…

Power Manager let me fix the problem by offering a toggle to trade system performance for battery life. I set it at the second (of three) options, balanced, and the computer ran smooth again – though battery life dropped to three hours.

Firefox was open and [network dropped.] Huh. Firefox was open, and I was looking at a site when [network dropped.] Alright – this is enough from you, I just want to [network dropped.]

It seems the Gateway LT3100 Netbook drops wifi signal every time it is unplugged. I tested this theory, plugged it back into the wall, and sure enough – it worked fine. I unplugged it and [network dropped.]

I changed the power manager settings to use full power, kill the battery, and still I was dropping the wifi signal. I went into the device manager and set it so the system could not set the wifi card to sleep when unplugged, to save power – still the signal dropped. There was no getting around this issue.

Plugged in the computer works fine, unplugged it’s a terrible mess of broken hardware in a pretty plastic shell.

The Verdict
I give this computer Two Zombie Eaten Thumbs out of a possible Ten Uneaten Thumbs. Only because it’s great when plugged in did it get no thumbs, or all eaten thumbs, or whatever would seem worse.

Lets be honest here – a netbook that can’t connect to the net? Useless. It’s going back to Best Buy today. Ohh how I love those boys in blue.


  1. Dude how unlucky! you probably have a defective unit!.
    I have owned 4 netbooks : Ans MSI, and Acer 10", a toshiba 8" and this netbook is 1'000'000 % better than all of those together. I can easily see this laptop being the only laptop of a lot of people (in my case its my second laptop , my primary is a gateway 17" P series.)
    I admit I installed XP though and with all the stardock stuff it looks as pretty as vista.
    It is very strange that when unplugged it slowed down since the Athlon processor in NOT a speedstep unit (It can't slow down)... weird...
    I would change it ASAP...your unit is definetly defective, this netbook is AWESOME for day to day stuff (I am even running autocad and sketchup on it...)

  2. Slowed to a grinding halt - but that was when "battery life" was selected over "speed." That I could live with. Honestly, it would be the only laptop I'd ever need if it didn't drop Wi-Fi.

  3. Hello,
    Love this thing. Immediately installed the RC version of Win7. No problems, runs faster. Set power setting on full blast. Hardly ever use it on battery power but under Win7 wifi works great even when not plugged in. Also put a memory card in the slot and use it for SpeedBoost and that helped too. Very happy so far.

  4. This was the most annoying review of anything I have ever read.

    Cut down on the metaphors and confusing failed attempt at dialog.

  5. what you fail to realize- though i'm not sure how - is that this is a travel blog. if you want a concise review go to a tech blog. But i can sum it up - terrible network card, bad OS, don't buy it if you want to unplug.


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