The Gateway LT31 is an all-black, premium-looking netbook. I say premium-looking because unlike the Sony VAIO X, which boasts of better internal hardware to complement its super-slim design, the Gateway LT31 is your average netbook—with a better exterior compared to some other netbooks we've seen in the past.
The Gateway LT31 treats a netbook similar to how the Gateway ID58 treats a mainstream laptop, in terms of style and design. There's an engraved logo on the glossy black screen lid (and a huge fingerprint magnet!), surrounded by a fake metal strip along its edge, and it does add a bit of class to the otherwise black monotone. The screen bezel is glossy, and so is the 11.6-inch screen which supports a maximum screen resolution of 1366x768. However, the palmrest has a nice textured finish which we haven't seen in any other netbook. The LT31 is pretty slim with its screen lid closed, there's no unnecessary battery bulge, and the whole unit is nicely streamlined. Build quality isn't any better or worse compared to other netbooks of its class. The whole unit weighs 1.4-kg with its six-cell battery—in line with other 11.6-inch netbooks like the Asus Eee PC 1101HA or Benq Joybook Lite U121.
In terms of usability, we liked the Gateway LT31's isolated keyboard, with large keys—similar to the ones on Acer Aspire One 751h. Typing on it was no problem at all, but the touchpad was a little too smooth for comfort. However, it is gesture-enabled, allowing you to flick, pinch, zoom through images and Web pages, and the feature works well. There's a good-looking chrome accent around the touchpad, adding a bit of elegance to the Gateway LT31's overall looks. The LED-backlit screen wasn't very bright but offered good contrast levels and viewing angles. However, onboard sound from speakers situated under the front edge was alright when the LT31 sat perched on a table, but audio was muffled while the netbook was kept on the lap. We recommend plugging in headphones if you have to tune into some music.
The Gateway LT31 has different hardware compared to Intel Atom-based netbooks from the likes of Asus, Acer, Toshiba or Sony. Similar to the MSI Wind12 U210, the Gateway LT31 runs on an AMD processor: the Athlon L110 1.2-GHz - slower compared to the MSI's 1.6-GHz Athlon Neo. Both have onboard ATI Radeon X1270 graphics adapter, which is slightly better than Intel's GMA 500. However, the Gateway LT31 has greater RAM and a fatter hard drive: 2GB RAM and 250GB hard drive. It comes with Windows Vista Home Basic operating system. Disappointingly, the LT31 doesn't bundle in Draft-N Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet, but it has Bluetooth connectivity. Apart from this, it has the standard offerings of three USB ports, VGA-out, multicard reader, and audio jacks.
Performance on the Gateway LT31 wasn't overwhelming, despite the extra gigabyte of RAM. WorldBench 6, PC Mark 05, and 3D Mark 06 scores were below that of the MSI Wind12 U210—but slightly better than recent Atom-based 11.6-inch netbooks. Part of the reason for this was its slower processor and the bloated Vista OS. We had no trouble browsing the Web, working on productivity suites, and listening to music on the LT31. Disappointingly, it couldn't play smooth, stutter-free 720p HD videos. Battery life, through our benchmark on high-performance preset, was underwhelming at 2 hours 33 minutes—compared to others that have clocked close to 5 hours. However, expect over 5 hours while browsing the Web over Wi-Fi.
The Gateway LT31 comes across as a hit-and-a-miss netbook, and comes with regular features - nothing new. It offers good looks, greater RAM and hard drive space compared to some of its competitors, but all that doesn't translate into greater performance to be blown over. Not for the cost of Rs. 26,000 at least. Buy it only for its good looks and keyboard.