Sold through Tesco's, the Gateway MX8716b (£649 inc. VAT) is a desktop replacement ideal for family use. Despite limited warranty cover and basic 3D performance, day-to-day power and usability are impressive, making a strong laptop for the home office.
With its 17-inch display, the screen is ideal for viewing movies and photos. The extra size makes the 3.4kg chassis bulky, but its battery life of 172 minutes provides decent mobility for short journeys and working outside.
The 1440 x 900 pixel resolution provides sharp images and makes it simple to work with multiple windows at once. Colour and contrast are both impressive, and provide accurate image reproduction for editing home photos and movies.
The added size allows space for a full-size keyboard with a dedicated numeric pad. The keys have a fairly firm typing action, and the board is comfortable and reliable to use. The extra keys are also a great help when inputting data or making calculations.
Where the Gateway falls short is in its limited 3D power. Using an integrated Intel graphics card, performance is limited. The most basic games can be played, but when editing high-resolution video and installing the latest 3D software, the GPU quickly falters.
While it lacks full multimedia features, the 120GB hard drive provides plenty of space to store an entire family's data. DVDs and CDs can also be created with ease using the built-in rewritable DVD drive and pre-installed CyberLink Power2Go disc creation software.
Using an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2048MB of memory, the Gateway is both fast and stable in day-to-day use. Even when running several programs together, the dual-core processor easily provides enough power to keep all software running smoothly.
Helping new users get quickly up and running, basic office tools and internet security are provided by Microsoft Works and McAfee Internet Security software. However, the Gateway's warranty cover is unimpressive. Just one year of protection is provided, where the user must pay for the laptop to be returned to Gateway. With no upgrade options available, users may find this protection far too limited for their needs.
For an off-the-shelf laptop with all you need for basic family use, the Gateway MX8716b makes a very tempting offer. Only its poor warranty may deter more cautious buyers. As it's sold through Tesco, you may also need to act fast to avoid disappointment.