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 .
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, theweighs 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,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)
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