The Gigabyte U2442 is an impressive laptop to open up, with a lot of well chosen physical features and a subtle gold colour scheme. However, there are some definite bum notes too – let’s have a closer look.
Display and bezel
We’ll focus our attentions for now on the display. This is a 1600 x 900 unit, good for an ‘HD+’ designation but stopping short of the most useful ‘Full HD’ resolution of 1920 x 1080. I’m satisfied with that pixel count on a 14″ screen, although more is almost always better. Given that this is a machine capable of gaming, having a slightly lower resolution than normal will mean performance at that resolution will be slightly better, so it seems a worthwhile tradeoff.
Outside of the resolution, the screen seems well calibrated albeit with only moderately good viewing angles and an overly sensitive adaptive brightness function that will quickly annoy you.
As I mentioned in the introduction, there is no touch component to the screen. There is little downside to including one (apart from the cost), but then again on a gaming laptop it’s not an essential. Still, I found myself missing the functionality when navigating the ‘Metro’ mode of Windows 8 and going to turn off the computer.
The display is ringed with a fairly large black bezel, with the Gigabyte name below and a ‘Made in Taiwan’ gold sticker in the upper right. Were this my own machine, this sticker (and those that follow it) would be quick to go.
Keyboard and touchpad
We now turn our attention to the lower section of the machine. Here we have a backlit chiclet keyboard with black keys and white lettering, all pretty similar to the Apple style that’s so often copied here. Key layout is quite sensible, with Fn to the right of Ctrl and Home/End/Page Up/Page Down as secondary functions on the arrow keys.
The trackpad is quite interesting, with a grain texture that gives you a lot more tactile feedback than most flat plastic trackpads. The trackpad is a good size and also features a long, thin button tray at the bottom.
Outside of the keyboard and trackpad, it’s a mixed bag. There’s a cool speaker grille with a unique pattern above the keyboard, and the power / utility keys at the upper left are well designed.
Below, however, things get a bit messy – there are three fairly large sticker sections here, including one with specifications, one with component manufacturer logos and a 2 year global warranty sticker. While the component manufacturer ones seem to be removable, the others don’t seem to offer the same option – ironically, if I had to choose which stickers to keep the manufacturer ones would be at the top of my list.
The remaining element of the bottom section is well laid out, however: a set of five indicator lights for Bluetooth, WiFi, hard disk activity, charging and LED backlight. These are directly below the touchpad and can be seen whether the laptop is open or closed. Awesomely, if the laptop is off and you press the right hand end of the trackpad button, these lights will reflect the approximate level of charge (e.g. 3 of 5 lights would indicate around 60% charge).
Now let’s take a look at the left and right sides of the Gigabyte U2442.
Starting with the left first, working from the front and going back, we’ve got a Kensington lock, separate 3.5 mm headphone and microphone jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, VGA and RJ45 Ethernet.
On the right hand side, we’ve got the SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and finally the AC adapter input.