Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Top 5 All-Purpose Laptops (3)

Gateway E-475M

CPU: 2.2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7500
Display Size (inches): 15.4
Wide Screen: Yes
Total HD Size (GB): 100
Min. Weight (lbs.): 7.2
Price When Reviewed: $2270

Gateway business laptop delivers great performance and battery life.

If a 7.2-pound laptop with a 15.4-inch screen isn't too bulky or heavy to carry in your estimation, you may well find Gateway's new business laptop ideal for toting in a satchel or backpack. It has a durable smudge-resistant exterior, a shock-mounted hard drive, and a close-fitting lid to keep out debris. Equipped with one of Intel's latest mobile dual-core processors, the $2270 (as of 5/9/07) E-475M is also one of the fastest notebooks of the moment, and it has terrific battery life.

The E-475M's classic matte-black case has a more business-oriented look than the two-tone M-465E it replaces. The rounded, clamshell lid keeps paperclips and other small items from working their way between the screen and keyboard, making this the perfect laptop for stuffing into a grubby bag.

Equipped with 2GB of RAM and a new 2.2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, the E-475M is the fastest Vista notebook we've tested to date. It bested our previous top WorldBench 6 Beta 2 scorer, a Micro Express NP5760 running an older 2.33-GHz Core 2 Duo T7600 chip and Vista Home, by 1 point--83 to 82. Our new speed champ is powerful enough to handle any application, even 3D gaming. (The speakers are no great shakes, however.) Wireless-communications fans get the bonus of the chip set's support for five-times-faster draft-n Wi-Fi. The Gateway aced our battery tests, as well, lasting 5 hours, 17 minutes on a single charge.

The screen has the more conservative matte finish rather than the glossy sheen so popular these day, so it's not blazingly bright--but neither does it reflect office lights. The WXSGA resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels makes icons small, but that's the necessary trade-off if you like being able to open a lot of windows or to see all of a big document at once. The rest of the design is good overall, if a bit spartan. The keyboard is classic Gateway: plain, with no quick-launch buttons, but comfortable. Case connections are also modest but cover all the bases, including a front-mounted wireless switch. The 100GB hard drive could be bigger, but at least it's a high-speed, 7200-rpm model. The E-475M is one of the rare Gateway systems to offer a modular bay. Though the bay's release is awkwardly situated on the bottom, and is stiff and hard to work, being able to swap out the dual-layer DVD burner for a second battery or hard drive is a valuable expansion option.

Extras not included in our review unit's price include an optional fingerprint reader, an integrated smart card, Gateway's built-to-fit privacy filter, and a detachable docking station with a very nice charging bay that lets you keep an extra battery ready to go.

Though not cheap, the E-475M injects some much-needed excitement into Gateway's notebook lineup. It's a good-looking and durable design, topped off by great performance courtesy of one of Intel's latest dual-core processors.

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