Gateway 2000 Nomad 450DXL notebook. (portable computer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
Gateway's new Nomad 450DXL was designed and built specifically for power users who want all the muscle usually found in a high-end desktop PC but who also want the convenience and mobility of a notebook computer. If you're one of those users, the Nomad is what you've been waiting for. Weighing less than 6 pounds and measuring 8.5 x 11 x 1.8 inches, it tucks easily under your arm or in a briefcase.
The CPU is an Intel 80486DXLP2/50, a new chip that consumes less power (hence the LP designation) than conventional DX2 CPUs. This low-power CPU, combined with Gateway's other power-management features, gives the Nomad excellent nicad battery life (more than two hours, even under heavy use) between recharges.
The dark, charcoal gray color and squared, no-frills styling give the Nomad a bold, handsome appearance that would be equally at home on an airline seat back tray or on a boardroom conference table. A custom, color-coordinated, miniature hand-held trackball provides a supple and surprisingly easy-to-use pointing device for navigating your way around Windows (included with the computer) or other GUI-based applications. The trackball connects to a dedicated mouse port at the left side of the machine via a two-foot cable.
The Nomad's 10-inch LCD (measured diagonally) is a backlit, triple supertwist unit that affords good viewing in all lighting conditions, although some of the LCD's pathways are visible when the brightness or contrast controls (dials located at the right of the display) are turned all the way up. Under most conditions this isn't necessary, however, and on the whole the display is quite good. The Nomad is capable of displaying up to 64 shades of gray in normal VGA (640 x 480) mode. With an external monitor connected, the Nomad can provide 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768 SVGA resolutions as well, and it supports simultaneous display of the LCD and CRT. A unique feature of the Nomad is its screen inversion switch, also located next to the LCD. By changing the position of this switch, you can reverse the video display from its normal dark-on-light display to light-on-dark. This affords better viewing for some applications, although the LCD's pathways become more pronounced in the reversed-video mode.
The Nomad comes outfitted with 8MB of RAM as the standard configuration, and this can be expanded to 20MB if you need more memory. A fast Conner 200MB hard drive is also standard equipment on this model, as is a front-mounted 1.44MB high-density floppy drive.
LEDs are used to inform the user of the system's status, and they're all located in a line just above the upper-most keyboard row. Power, low-battery condition, turbo mode, floppy and hard disk activity, and Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock status are all signified by this bank of helpful light-emitting diodes.
All the I/O ports are concealed beneath a dropdown panel door on the left side of the machine, while a Microsoft-compatible Quick-Port is found at the right side for those who prefer a Microsoft BallPoint to the supplied minitrackball. The socket for attaching the AC power adapter and a compartment that houses the proprietary expansion bus connector are located at the rear of the machine.
With the Nomad 450DXL, you don't have to stay at your desktop to get your work done. This notebook makes it possible to take the power you need where you need it, easily.