At a Glance
Consumers and students looking for a nice little wide screen with fantastic battery life should run to buy this one.
Looking for an easy-to-tote wide-screen with luxurious battery life? Gateway is all over it with the $1729 M250E. Our review unit came with an extended-life 12-cell battery (a $60 upgrade from the standard 6-cell one) that gave the M250E a battery life of almost 6.5 hours on one charge in our tests. (In this age of exaggerated vendor claims, it's worth pointing out how close this comes to Gateway's advertised 7 hours.) As a bonus, this largest of the batteries available for the M250E (there are also 9-, 6-, and 4-cell options) serves as a foot that gives the keyboard a comfortable typing slant. Including the 12-cell battery, the M250E weighs just 5.8 pounds; with the AC adapter, it checks in at 6.8 pounds. (With the 4-cell battery, it weighs 4.8 pounds, according to Gateway.)
The two-toned M250E is nicely but not extravagantly equipped, including a bright 14-inch WXGA screen. The case layout, which seems to be designed for right-handers, features headphone and microphone mini-jacks, a jog volume dial, and an SD Card slot on the front; and a FireWire port, three USB ports, and a fixed DVD burner on the right. The sole rear connection is an ethernet port; the slightly more heavily populated left side of the case includes a modem jack, a monitor port, and one PC Card slot.
The M250E's black keyboard with easy-to-read white and blue lettering exudes simple elegance, including a stretch (wider than normal) touchpad and a bisected chrome bar that serves as mouse buttons. The M250 is not a very loud laptop, but the audio from the stereo speakers on the front bottom of the notebook (where low rubber feet raise it off the desk) produce pretty good sound quality.
In our speed tests the 2.13-GHz Pentium M 770-equipped M250E performed fairly well, earning a respectable WorldBench 5 score of 82. When it's time to upgrade, the M250E's single open SODIMM slot is easily accessible; so is the hard drive. Both sit behind plates on the bottom of the notebook that are held in place by single screws.
For managing cables on your desktop, Gateway sells a $139 port replicator that plugs into a dedicated port on the left side of the M250E to provide three additional USB 2.0 ports; parallel, serial, FireWire, and 10/100 Ethernet ports; and a VGA port for connecting an external monitor. The included Microsoft Works 8 application bundle will take care of most of your work needs, or you can upgrade to Office Basic Edition for an additional $129. Gateway also bundles pretty good documentation, including a bonus booklet on how to set up a wireless network.
Consumers and students with some extra money to spend on a nice little wide screen with fantastic battery life should run, not walk, to the Gateway M250E.