OS Tested: JoliCloud
CPU: Intel Atom 1.6GHz
Display: 10.1” (1024,600)
Dimensions: 315 x 229mm x 110mm
This compact and light netbook is fairly average in performance, but does have a 250GB hard disk drive, a bright screen and a good price
The processing speed – like most netbooks – is just not enough to run any robust Linux apps: it gets very sluggish if you push it
A netbook is only as powerful as the software you install on it. If you install the right operating system and focus your attention on web apps and not software you install on the hard drive, most models reveal their true nature as thin clients that have internal storage for music, movies, a vast photo library, backups and business documents.
The Gateway LT2030u is a fairly standard netbook that fits this mould. It’s about as compact as a netbook can get and not be a smartphone, measuring about 260mm across and 230mm deep, or just a hair smaller than just about every other model we have tested. However, the small size obfuscates a few handy specs we don’t normally associate with a netbook: a spacious 250GB hard disk drive, a keyboard that actually works well for typing up long documents in OpenOffice Write, and an included six-cell battery that lasted just over four hours of normal use. The price is right, too: the Gateway LT2 is just £212 ($400), just a little more than the similar Lenovo S12.
The Gateway LT2030u also gets extra points for the better-than-average speakers for music playback on the device. Our unit also had a media card reader – it is located on the right side. The 10.1-inch display on the Gateway LT2030u is exceptionally bright. In a side-by-side comparison with a Lenovo S12 netbook, the Gateway LT2030u was noticeably brighter and clearer. The Gateway LT2030u is also thinner than most netbooks at just over one inch thin: it is roughly the same thinness as the Acer Aspire (not surprising since Acer owns Gateway). In fact, the Gateway even uses the same cherry red colour as the Aspire and could easily be mistaken for one, except that the Aspire has a bit more of a sleek and modern design and the LT2030u is smaller.
What we found to be true on the Gateway LT2030u is that it responded quite well to JoliCloud, the next-gen Linux distro that is currently in private beta. We decided to put the netbook through a vast array of tests. First, we managed to get Spotify working in Wine and streamed music in the background. We also used several other web apps including Facebook, Gmail and LinkedIn by clicking on an icon right on the main desktop, turning the Gateway LT2030u into a capable net machine.
That said, like most netbooks that use the Intel Atom processor, we were not impressed with the device when we ran even simple desktop-bound apps, including OpenOffice Write. When we had Write open at the same time as the Google Chrome browser, with Spotify streaming music in the background, the Gateway LT2030u became quite sluggish. Once again, we pined for the upcoming Nvidia Ion chipset, which will be included with the HP Mini 311 and a version of the Lenovo S12 which adds a boost for graphics, HD movies, and games. The Gateway LT2030u, even though it is a brand new model, is more like a first-generation netbook.
That does not mean it is a clunker. We strongly preferred the keyboard on this model to the one on the Toshiba NB205, which is just too cramped for serious typing. The LT2030u is priced right, has the features required for internet use, and turned out to be a great match for the JoliCloud OS – as long as we stuck with web apps.
Just a few extras on the Gateway LT2030u make it more compelling: the larger hard disk drive, the well-designed keyboard (small but still capable), and the bright screen are the notable features. We do look forward to Ion-based netbooks that work much better for games, movies and graphics.
This article originally appeared in issue 82 of Linux User & Developer magazine. Click here to see more reviews from the magazine.