Gateway CX2620 Review

I recently found myself in the market for a new laptop, and decided to take the plunge into the world of TabletPCs.  I shopped around a bit, read some reviews, and decided that I liked Gateway’s wide-screen form-factor.  I wanted a well-powered laptop that was also a Tablet, and the Gateway fit the bill.


The configuration I wanted was falling in the $1300 to $1450 ballpark on the various Gateway portals (Home/Small Business), but I found that I could get a fair bit more hardware for a good price by buying the retail CX2620 from Circuit City or Best Buy.  Circuit City had a couple of rebates so they got my business.


The machine came preloaded with a lot of software that I had no interest in.  There was some expected players: BixFix, Quicktime, Realplayer, McAffee, etc.  Plus some cryptic programs that sounded a bit nefarious like the Viewpoint Media Player and something that I seem to recall being called the Mistyped URL Redirector or something like that.  I’m not going to make any claims as to whether these programs are good or bad, simply that I didn’t want them and I wish they hadn’t been included.


I was about halfway through the uninstall dance when I decided to just call it quits and install Vista.  I was a bit hesitant since a new build is due within a couple weeks on MSDN, but I took the plunge just the same. I didn’t time it, but I think the install completed in about an hour.  Several hardware items were not recognized.  A few round-trips to Windows Update and through the “Set up devices” Wizard in the welcome center took care of all the driver issues except for the Finepoint digitizer (Kinda important for a Tablet) and the tablet-mode control buttons.  I looked to the Gateway support site for XP drivers in hopes that they would work.  The button driver was easy to find, but the driver for the digitizer was labeled:  “D00368-002-001.exe – Gateway Digitizer Calibration Drivers”.  After installing these two drivers, I had an almost fully functional glass-ified Tablet.  I think the calibration program failed to load, but it’s close to calibrated anyway so it’s not bugging me yet. (I can’t find any way to start a cal routine, and I’ve tried reinstalling the calibration program and it errors and reports the problem to Microsoft.)


Overall impressions: The CX2620 is bigger than other tablets I’ve had a chance to heft.  The additional features included make it worth it for me, but more mobile users might want to shy away.


100GB (~93GB really) HD, plenty of room to store music, movies, family photos, etc.
1.73GHz Pentium M – Seems pretty snappy.
1GB RAM – 2 DIMMs, so it’s not cheaply upgradeable, but 1GB should serve well for the near future.
DVD RW – I wanted this for backups, and to burn ISO’s from MSDN.
Tablet Digitizer – I was a bit worried about the fact that this isn’t a WACOM digitizer.  Aside from a bit of difficulty finding the drivers to use with Vista, I’m totally happy with it.  The pen tracks very well, and I haven’t notices any of the jittery behavior that some others have seen.
Tablet Pen – This was my one major disappointment with the purchase.  It appears that the pen only comes with one tip, and the tip on my pen had a jagged edge that seems like it would do some serious damage to the screen if used extensively. At the very least, it isn’t at all smooth for writing.   I managed to rub the point off on a sheet of mildly rough plastic, but until I get a replacement tip, I won’t be checking out the handwriting too much.
Latch – The latch that keeps the tablet closed is mildly annoying.  There’s been a few cases where I couldn’t get it to latch or to open.  These usually happen because the swivel-hinge isn’t quite set right so the screen is off-center.  Whatever the case the tolerances on these two pieces are off somewhat so the latch and hinge just require a bit more attention than I would like.


Overall, I’m happy with the purchase.  The laptop will get daily use as I go through my last semester of classes for my MBA.  I’m glad I have the wide screen, since it’s nice to be able to have a research window open alongside a document, plus it works pretty well for occasional coding.


Blogging will continue to be light as I’m pretty busy with a 6-credit seminar, but if anyone has any specific questions on the CX2620, or on getting Vista up and running on any Gateway Tablet, I’ll be happy to field them.


Also, if there’s anyone on the Vista team that wants to send a Beta invite my way, I’ll be sure to put any new builds through the paces.



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16 thoughts on “Gateway CX2620 Review

  1. Cathy says:

    Hi, I’m looking to get a new laptop and am interested in covertible tablets. I’ve been browsing the web today (May 25), and the Gateway CX2620 caught my attention because it seems more affordable for what you get. I read your comments, and wanted to ask if you have any experience working with digital photos with this laptop, and have you used it with Photoshop (Elements)? I am not a Photoshop user as of yet, but plan to get it for my new laptop and wondered if the pen can be used for on-screen photo editing, etc. I appreciate any prompt feedback you can provide (looks like the Circuit City rebates expires on May 27, 2006). Thanks!

  2. Cathy,
    The only concern I would have is that the FinePoint digitizer doesn’t seem to support pressure sensitivity. If you read the comments on this post, they imply that the drivers for finepoint don’t support pressure. tabletpcs.weblogsinc.com/…/just-ordered-a-
    I don’t know if that’s important for photoshop, but all around I’ve been impressed. It’s a really decent amount of horsepower in a medium-sized package. I can carry it around for short periods of time using it like a slate, but for the most part, it’s better suited to sitting on a table. I’ve never used photoshop, so I’m not sure exactly how it would perform there, but it handles rotating and organizing my digital photos just fine.
    Regards,
    Rick H.

  3. Cathy says:

    Hi Rick, thanks for your reply. I was waiting to get my new laptop (from Circuit City) and had ordered Photoshop Elements/Premiere Elements (great deal from Amazon.com, with rebate) before providing any comments, then my internet service went down. I have not had a chance to upload my own pictures yet, but used a sample flower photo to test out the pen with Photoshop Elements. I’m happy to report that the pen does work with that program (I actually got a quick confirmation of this when I called someone at Circuit City who asked a fellow associate, but I wanted to see for myself). Not only does it allow tapping/selecting toolbar and menu items, I could also draw on and trace parts of the flower. I’m a novice with Photoshop Elements so that’s about all I figured out to do without reading manuals. At this point, I don’t know if lack of pressure sensitivity will be an issue. However, I can already tell that editing photos will be easier and more convenient using the pen than the touchpad or even a mouse. I just need to get used to writing on the screen. I understand what you mean about the latch–it just requires extra attention to line it up and then it’s no big deal. Overall, I am very pleased with the CX2620 and enjoy using my new laptop! Take care.

  4. Andrea Leal says:

    Hi, Im planning to buy that tablet pc and I really would like one that is good for mobility and I wanna know what you think about that? Will I stand it? or would it definetly kill my back?

  5. Andrea Leal says:

    oh yes, and do you think it would be useful for precise drawing and image editing?
    Thanks

  6. I wouldn’t get this tablet if my primary mode of use was going to be standing or mobile. It’s a bit hefty for that type of use. If you’re going to be mobile, I’d look at models that don’t have a built-in CD-ROM, they tend to be a bit lighter and smaller. The CX2620 is a well powered laptop that happens to have tablet functionality, but the tablet functionality definetly doesn’t come first. I almost always use it while seated, usually with it on a table of some kind.
    As for precision drawing, I have noticed that I almost always recalibrate the digitizer when I switch to tablet mode. After calibration, it functions pretty well.
    Regards,
    Rick H.

  7. Hey Rick,
    I just got Vista Beta3 up and running on my CX2620 with all the tablet features. i am having a problem with a mass storage controller driver, do you have any insight on this…
    Eric

  8. Eric,
    I just installed build 5472 last night (it’s technically a post beta 2 CTP, not beta 3) and I’m having the same driver problem. I don’t have a solution, but here’s what I know of the problem:
    1. When I installed CTP build 5308, I didn’t have this problem.
    2. When I originally installed Beta 2, I didn’t have this problem.
    3. When I reinstalled Beta 2 about 3 weeks ago, this problem showed up.
    4. When I installed CTP build 5472, this problem was still there.
    So, something happened, possibly in the Windows Update downloadable drivers arena, that has caused whatever driver this is to stop working. Maybe they removed a driver from the database. It doesn’t appear to affect anything though. I’ll post more if I get to the bottom of this.
    Regards,
    Rick H.

  9. Simon says:

    It’s the sd card reader, the drivers are on gateway support site.
    The only thing I cannot do is run the pen calibration tool.

  10. I actually haven’t had any problems with calibration since build 5472 (The last CTP posted to MSDN). I’d discourage anyone installing builds they find via bittorrent because 1. It’s illegal, and 2. builds found on bittorrent have been found to have viruses and rootkits embedded.

  11. Scott Murphy says:

    Hey Rick
    I just recently bought the gateway cx2620 and installed windows vista and office 2007 beta2. They both seem to be working pretty well. There are a few problems with drivers causing it to boot up and shut down slowly. Is it worth installing RC1 or would it be better to just wait for the actual release. I am an action pack subscriber so i will be getting all the upgrades when they come out.
    Scott

  12. I think it’s worth updating to RC1. Prior to RC1 I had some problems with the tablet not returning from sleep mode properly, and those all disappeared with RC1. Overall, it’s been much more stable, fewer programs crashing, less annoyances with UAC.

  13. Any updates about running Vista on the CX2620?
    Just bought an open-box CX2620 for $849 from Circuit City and plan on putting Vista on it this weekend. I noticed that Gateway has refurbished M285’s for $600-800 and a new CX210 start at $999(w/free Vista upgrade) and I am wondering if I should spend a few hundred more or keep the 2620.
    gregg

  14. If I remember correctly the CX2620 is pretty comparible as a base to the other two, the main difference being that it’s a fixed configuration for retail. Whether or not it’s worth it to return it is going to depend on the options that are on the M285 or CX210. When I bought my CX2620, it came with all of the options that I would have wanted on a custom machine, and it ended up being cheaper.

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