Gateway M275 tablet PC review: Gateway M275 tablet PC

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.4
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Battery life: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Big screen for a tablet; long battery life; integrated DVD/CD-RW drive.

The Bad Heavy; overly deep wrist rest.

The Bottom Line With its first convertible tablet, Gateway trades low weight for extensive functionality and long battery life. But if you need a featherweight tablet, look elsewhere.

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Editors' note: In early September 2005, Gateway changed the names of many of its laptops. Read our explanation to learn how to make sense of the new names and where to find CNET's reviews of Gateway laptops. (10/6/05)

Most tablet PC makers are now concentrating on making over their first tablets, but not Gateway. Instead of refreshing its slate-style tablet, the company has just released a new convertible tablet: the M275. The M275's 14.1-inch screen and full-size keyboard are among the biggest in its class. Other benefits include a Pentium M processor that boosts battery life, an integrated secondary storage drive, and a 4-in-1 card reader for flash media cards. Business and home users will appreciate all of the M275's perks, but anyone who spends a lot of time on the road should consider a lighter tablet than this 5.8-pound system, such as the 2.2-pound NEC Versa LitePad .

The Gateway M275 measures 12.6 by 10.8 by 1.1 inches and weighs 5.8 pounds. That's bigger than most convertible tablets; for example, the Fujitsu LifeBook T3000 weighs slightly more than 4 pounds.

Although the M275 is bulkier than the competition, it also offers much more functionality. The system's 14.1-inch display is larger than the 12.1-inch (or smaller) screens of other tablets and is bolted to the keyboard via a center hinge that allows the screen to rotate 180 degrees, bend back over the keyboard, and snap securely into place through the lid latch. Four handy buttons on the display bezel launch the onscreen input panel, increase or decrease brightness, open Windows' Task Manager, and switch between Landscape and Portrait modes.

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The screen twists and lies flat, covering the keyboard.
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The keyboard is wide and sturdy; the wrist rest is rather deep.

Another advantage of the M275's size is a wide, sturdy keyboard, which Gateway swiped from notebooks such as its 600 series. Unfortunately, the M275 also includes the excessively deep wrist rest found on most Gateway laptops. At least the M275's two standard mouse buttons and third scroll button are slightly larger than those of its notebook cousins.

The M275 also sports a feature most convertibles don't: an internal secondary storage drive on the front edge. (You can choose between DVD-ROM and DVD/CD-RW drives when you buy.) The M275's remaining edges include one port each for headphones, a microphone, and FireWire, plus one Type II PC Card slot, and a 4-in-1 card slot (for small SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, and Memory Stick cards) on the left; two USB 2.0, Ethernet, VGA, and a docking port on the back; and a 56K modem jack on the right.

Gateway doesn't offer many configuration options on the M275, but fortunately, the system features several cutting-edge components. For starters, it includes Intel's power-saving Pentium M processor--running at 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz. Coupled with Intel's 855GM chipset and Pro/Wireless 802.11b mini-PCI card, the M275 becomes an official Centrino. Gateway also sells a Broadcom mini-PCI card based on the faster 802.11g standard for an extra $20.

Other specs are top-notch, too. The M275 includes the largest screen among today's convertible tablets, measuring 14.1 inches. Double-data rate (DDR), 333MHz memory starts at 256MB and ends at 1,024MB, and hard drives come in two large sizes: 40GB and 60GB. Internal secondary storage drives consist of either a DVD or DVD/CD-RW drive. Every M275 also includes a dedicated slot that supports four types of tiny media cards: SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, and Memory Stick. Our $2,099 evaluation system included a 1.6GHz Pentium M, 512MB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, and a DVD/CD-RW drive.

All tablet PCs, including the M275, are based on Microsoft's Windows XP Professional Tablet PC Edition. In addition to the standard Microsoft apps loaded onto each tablet PC, such as Windows Journal and Sticky Notes, Gateway bundles Microsoft Works 7.0, InterVideo's WinDVD 4.0 for DVD playback, and several of Ahead Software's Nero series programs. The Nero list includes Express 6.0 for quick CD burning, BackItUp for backing up and restoring data, and CD/DVD Speed for monitoring the performance of your DVD/CD-RW drive. That's a decent package, but Gateway could have included some of the new tablet PC-specific apps, such as Corel Grafigo for sketching and annotating and FranklinCovey's TabletPlanner.

The Gateway M275 tablet tied for first place in mobile performance in this small roundup of tablets. The system shares first place with the Fujitsu LifeBook T3000 tablet, which actually has a slower processor. But during mobile performance, top speeds are meaningless as processor speeds throttle down to conserve battery life. That said, the Gateway M275 is one of the highest-performing tablets we've yet seen. The Acer TravelMate C110 brings up the rear, scoring much lower than the others. The Gateway M275 has great performance when running office and content-creation apps.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  
Fujitsu LifeBook T3000
152 
Gateway M275
152 
Acer TravelMate C110
133 

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

Acer TravelMate C110
Windows XP Tablet; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/92855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GB 40GN 4,200rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook T3000
Windows XP Tablet; 1,400MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

Gateway M275
Windows XP Tablet; 1,600MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GM Extreme Graphics (up to 64MB); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

The Gateway M275 cranked for more than four hours--very impressive battery life, thanks to its 14.8V, 3,600mAh (53WHr) battery, which is one of the biggest batteries we've yet seen in a tablet. The Fujitsu LifeBook T3000 came in second with more than three hours of battery life, thanks to its 10.8V, 3,600mAh (39WHr) battery. The Acer TravelMate C110 came in last place, lasting just more than two hours, with its 14.8V, 1,800mAh battery responsible for that low score. The Gateway excels at stretching battery life while running office and content-creation apps.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  
Gateway M275
257 
Fujitsu LifeBook T3000
221 
Acer TravelMate C110
137 

Battery life analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Acer TravelMate C110
Windows XP Tablet; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/92855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GB 40GN 4,200rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook T3000
Windows XP Tablet; 1,400MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME Graphics Controller (up to 64MB shared); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

Gateway M275
Windows XP Tablet; 1,600MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GM Extreme Graphics (up to 64MB); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

The M275 ships with the same service and support policy offered with most tablets and notebooks. You receive free parts and labor for the first year you own the system, and you're responsible for sending the system back to Gateway for repairs. The company provides a long list of warranty extension programs that max out at an extra $339, including accidental-damage protection and a five-year warranty with onsite support. Since this is the first M275 out of the gate, you might consider extending your warranty to ensure that you're covered should any first-time kinks arise. Toll-free, around-the-clock phone support is also free for the length of your warranty.

At post time, Gateway's Web site lacked FAQs on this brand-new tablet. The site, however, does offer live chats with support reps--always a plus.

To find out more about how this product's warranty really stacks up and what you should look for in terms of service and support, take a look at CNET's hardware warranty explainer.

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Where to Buy

Gateway M275 tablet PC

Part Number: M275x Released: Nov. 12, 2003

This product is available directly from the manufacturer's Web site.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov. 12, 2003
  • Weight 5.7 lbs
  • Installed Size 512 MB
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