Walmart has partnered with Acer to deliver an exclusive Gateway-branded laptop that punches well above its weight thanks to a $199 price tag, a 50% discount off its launch price in 2021 and one that includes free shipping.
We rate this deal very highly, offering a top all-round productivity device, and while it wouldn’t make our best business laptop list, the GWTN156-7BL is a great choice for anyone on a shoe-string budget.
Where one would expect an obsolete, barely usable processor, the packs an 11th generation Intel Core i3 processor - yes, only dual-core, but the 1115G4 is probably the fastest dual-core CPU Intel ever produced, making it faster than the 10th gen Core i3 CPU in the Microsoft Surface Go 3, for example.
The nice surprises don't end there; it comes with 8GB of RAM (soldered), an upgradable 256GB SATA SSD, a 15.6-inch Full HD display, a pair of THX-tuned speakers and even a fingerprint scanner, something we’ve never seen on a laptop at this price. Last but not least, it comes in four colors (back, blue, green and purple), again something we didn’t expect at all.
The device is powered by Windows 11 but an upgrade to Windows 11 Pro should be easy enough, and there’s a 51WHr battery that should keep the laptop running for around eight hours according to Acer, and Wi-Fi 5, which should be good enough for most tasks. Remember the sticker price - $199 - and you’ll forgive it for the rest of its shortcomings. PCWorld reviewed it last year (at its original $399 price) and found that its display had a harsh hue (not great if you’re thinking of buying this laptop for Photoshop), a creaky plastic enclosure and a poor battery life.
That’s on top of a barrel-type power connector (the onboard Type-C connector doesn’t support charging) and a weight that’s just a smidgen below 2Kg. Speaking of connectors, there’s a HDMI one, two Type-A USB ones and an audio connector; no fancy Ethernet or Thunderbolt ports or bundled Microsoft 365 productivity software, no surprise given the price point.
Right now, the GWTN156-7BL doesn’t have any competition whatsoever, which is both exciting and slightly troubling - if it is that cheap before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then could it go even further down? We doubt it; equally doubtful is the appetite of bigger rivals to compete on price, including from Acer itself. As shown in the table below, Gateway thoroughly undercuts its main competitors in what looks like a no brainer deal contest.
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.