The Gateway M-7818u is a fixed configuration version of the manufacturer's midsize M series and is currently available through OfficeMax. As with the other versions of the M series we've reviewed, we like the design of the M-7818u, which combines an attractive display and comfortable keyboard inside of a stylish red case. We like the laptop's price tag even more: at $749, the M-7818u undercuts similarly configured systems, such as the Dell Studio 1535-143B ($849) and the Sony Vaio NS140E/W ($799). Those two laptops do deliver lengthier battery life than the Gateway, which might make the extra expense (and, in the case of the Dell, extra weight) worthwhile for anyone looking to work long stretches away from an outlet; otherwise, the Gateway M-7818u makes an affordable middle-of-the-road laptop choice for student and home use.
|Processor||2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800|
|Memory||4GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||250GB at 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Intel GM45 Express|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 4500 MHD (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14 x 10 x 1.2-1.4 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.0 / 6.8 pounds|
The laptops in Gateway's M series come in multiple colors, depending on where they're sold. Our Gateway M-7818u, currently available exclusively at OfficeMax, features a garnet red lid and wrist rest with a black display bezel and silver keyboard. We love the sassy red, even as we acknowledge that it's not for everyone. Our only quibble is that the glossy case finish is particularly prone to fingerprints; after handling the laptop a few times, the lovely red lid was marred with plenty of smudges. Aesthetics aside, the M-7818u feels sturdy, and we like that the lid attaches to the base via two extra-wide hinges.
The Gateway M-7818u features a beautiful 15.4-inch wide-screen display with a typical 1,280x800 native resolution. We liked the look of movies and photos on the screen, which displays deep color saturation. However, we found the overly glossy screen finish distracting while surfing the Web and typing e-mail, especially when sitting next to a window. Because this is a fixed configuration for sale in retail stores, there is not a matte-screen finish option. A 1.3-megapixel Webcam above the display lets users conduct video chats.
We love typing on the Gateway M-7818u, which features a sturdy metallic-silver keyboard framed with brushed aluminum. Though the Ctrl, Alt, Windows, and Shift keys have been shortened, we were able to pound out several e-mails without typos. We also like the M-7818u's roomy touch pad, which is responsive and provides just the right amount of resistance, and its ample-size mouse buttons. Above the keyboard sit a button to launch Windows Media Center, a row of keys to control disc playback that are cut into the brushed aluminum, and a touch-sensitive slider to control volume. Handy but unobtrusive port labels on the keyboard deck let you know where to plug in peripherals.
|Gateway M-7818u||Average for midsize category|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI, Webcam||VGA-out, S-video|
|Audio||headphone/ microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, multi-format memory card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/g/n||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The Gateway M-7818u's slender case houses all the ports and connections you're likely to need, plus an HDMI output; the latter is an unexpected bonus, but we're not sure how useful it will be without an accompanying high-definition optical drive. The laptop lacks the mini-FireWire we've come to expect on a midsize laptop--a possible deal breaker for camcorder enthusiasts--but it does include a multiformat memory-card reader so you can still grab images from your digital camera. While other M series laptops have incorporated sleek slot-loading optical drives, the M-7818u's DVD burner is tray-loading.
The Gateway M-7818u is a fixed-configuration, retail-only laptop that's currently available at OfficeMax. The $779 price tag includes a previous-generation 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 processor that's rather common among laptops in the $750 to $850 price range. (The $849 Dell Studio 1535-143B , the $749 Toshiba Satellite A305-S6872, and the $799 Sony Vaio NS140E/W all run on the same processor.) In addition, the Gateway incorporates 4GB of RAM (with 64-bit Windows Vista to take advantage of it) and integrated Intel graphics. As you'd expect, differences among these laptops were minimal when it came to CNET Labs' benchmarks. The Gateway matched the performance of the similarly configured Dell Studio 1535-143B and either matched or outran the Vaio NS140E/W and the Satellite A305-S6872, both of which incorporate only 3GB of RAM. During our use the Gateway M-7818u proved more than adequate for the basic tasks you'd expect a student or home user to perform (e.g., surfing the Web while streaming music and typing a document).
On our video playback drain test, the Gateway M-7818u lasted a respectable 2 hours and 40 minutes with the standard six-cell battery. That's just a hair longer than we'd usually expect from a laptop this size, but it's not enough to keep up with the Vaio NS140E/W, which held out nearly an hour longer. The Dell Studio 1535-143B and Toshiba Satellite A305-S6872 both lasted beyond the 4-hour mark, but those laptops also included extra-cell batteries that added to the laptop's weight.
The Gateway M-7818u comes backed by an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, though charges may apply to phone support. The company's Web site includes the expected driver downloads and FAQs, as well as the opportunity to send e-mail to a technician. Every M series laptop also comes preloaded with Gateway's BigFix diagnostic software.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)