Software & Accessories
The P-6831FX comes with a lot of readng material. There is a Starter Guide, Setup Guide and a Reference Guide. The Setup Guide contains instuctions about basic operation and diagrams to show you where all the buttons and ports are. The Starter Guide is an extremely brief introducion to Vista, Internet Explorer, e-mail, Windows Media Player, Norton Internet Security and system recovery. Finally, the Reference Guide is a beefy manual that covers all the bases in relative detail. If that wasn't enough, a rather large handfull of ads are also included for good measure, along with a little business card that reminds you to register your new notebook with Gateway. In this mess of flyers and manuals, you'll also find the recovery DVD in a clear plastic sleeve. Other than the AC power adapter, the only included accessory was a length of phone cord.
Booting up the P-6831FX for the first time reveals quite a busy desktop. On first boot-up we were greeted by a number of pop-up windows asking us to configure various things like the pre-installed Norton Internet Security suite. Finally, after getting through all that, we're left with what you see in the screenshot below. While we wouldn't say the P-6831FX was clogged with bloatware, it certainly came with a lot of "extras".
The desktop has shortcuts for eBay, Gateway Connect, MS Office 60-day trial, and AOL. These are easily despensed with. In the taskbar, we found Gateway Camera Assistant, BigFix Client Edition (automated patching software), Google Desktop, Napster, and SpareBackup. The pre-installed Gateway Camera Assistant also has an auto-hiding sidebar that you can't see in the screenshot below. It resides on the left side of the desktop, opposite the Google Desktop bar on the right. Other pre-installed software include Nortan Internet Security, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office 2007 60-day trial and Google toolbar. Overall, it isn't the most bloated bundle we've seen but it's certainly not ideal. Luckily most of these pre-installed programs are easy to get rid of if the user doesn't need them.
The P-6831FX also comes with the Gateway Games Console application. It's a simple game browsing service built and powered by Wild Tangent. The service allows you to play a variety of popular casual games. The P-6831FX came with full access to a large number of games ranging from puzzles to basic 3D shooters. Most of these games are flash or Shockwave based. There are also a number of downloadable games and tons of game demos. While these aren't blockbuster titles, the Games Console is a nice addition if you're into casual games.
The actual Games Console software is well laid out and easy to navigate. Everything is accessed from four tabs and the pages are presented within the main viewport. However, many of the buttons and options are actually links to webpages which open in your default browser.
Overall, the Gateway Games Console software works well and is a nice addition, but many power users probably won't be too interested in the games being offered. After all, if your into casual games, you wouldn't need a GeForce 8800M equipped gaming notebook.
Other pre-installed software like the Gateway Camera Assistant are also fairly well built and easy to use. The Gateway Camera Assistant is a basic interface for the built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam. It can take pictures, record video and add some basic visual effects. The pre-installed Spare Backup utility provides a simple way to create and restore backups of data while the BigFix utility tries to keep your computer up to date with patch and update information as well as basic diagnostic tools.