The merger with E-machines (headquarters for Gateway moved to Irvine where E-machines was based from San Diego) is a good thing in the long run as E-machines low-end desktops actually had decent reliability. I had a 400ghz Celeron for my mother first (a mistake but it never had a hardware failure) and then an Athlon noteobook (much better and she still uses that and only a Windows reinstall after getting hit with the Blaster virus was needed).
But notebooks are not as generic as desktops so you should stick with the larger companies that are NOT in transition if you suspect issues like this (Dell, HP/Compaq, Dell and IBM. IBM has been purchased by a Chinese company (the computer part) but IBM will keep doing the service and support themselves and they have a stake in the Chinese company.
Gateway has some outstanding deals on Athlon 64 and Pentium M notebooks at Best buy but you have to wonder about the service issues ..........
I have a 600 series notebook still under warranty. Last fall the battery failed. I have been attempting to order a replacement battery since Sept. Despite numerous conversations with Gateway (and hours of wasted time), I have been unable to obtain one. At one point, a tech promised me a refurbished replacement to use in the interim. After waiting for two weeks, I called and found out that not only would I not be recieving it (another dept cancelled the order because the battery itself was no longer under warranty), they also took it upon themselves to cancel the order I had placed for the new one in Sept.. Since Sept., they have promised 3 different estimated delivery dates, and a quick check of my order today revealed that they now claim they will not be available until mid January (last estimate was December 12). Bottom line - do you really want to invest in a laptop that is functionally obsolete before the warranty is even up?