At a Glance
Gateway enters the business ultraportable field with a modest-performing but stylish unit with extra security features.
A light corporate laptop for light work is all some people need. For them, Gateway's new ultraportable (3.2 pounds, 1 inch tall) E-100M fills the bill. The all-black, high-impact, magnesium-clad unit looks sleek and feels solid. To protect against theft, the E-100M includes Intel's Trusted Platform Module, a built-in security chip that guards data. In addition, you can order the unit with Computrace Complete, a BIOS-embedded recovery service that notifies law enforcement of the notebook's location when a thief goes on the Internet.
Like most other all-business notebooks, the E-100M has system memory graphics, weak audio, a couple of USB ports, a FireWire port, one PC Card slot, gigabit ethernet, and a standard VGA port for connecting an external monitor. You can order it with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless, too (the latter, which costs $50 extra, is included in our price of $1773, as of April 18, 2006). This model also boasts a six-in-one media-card reader.
The power connection and Kensington lock slot sit at opposite ends of the bar hinge, a clever compromise that I found just as convenient as the standard side or back locations. Hard-drive sizes range from 40GB to 100GB (our unit came with 80GB of storage).
The E-100M has a nice 12.1-inch WXGA Ultrabright screen and a small but surprisingly good touchpad-equipped keyboard. Aside from the two-handed combination keystroke required for paging up or down, it's excellent. I quickly got used to the feel of the shorter keystroke and was soon touch-typing at my usual fast clip.
The 8X multiformat DVD burner, a separate USB peripheral, costs $199 (included in our price). With the 0.8-pound power adapter, the notebook's total weight is 4.8 pounds.
Performance is undistinguished, however. Equipped with a 1.2-GHz Core Solo U1400 chip ($50 more than a 1.06-GHz Core Solo 1300) and 512MB of RAM, our review unit earned a WorldBench 5 score of 64. This score falls about 40 percent below the score of 100 that a typical full-size notebook running on a 2-GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM would earn.
The E-100M performed simple office tasks--such as checking the spelling in a Word document and sending e-mail messages with attachments--fairly quickly. But running multiple windows with multimedia elements quickly bogged it down. Converting an AVI video file to the WMV format while browsing the Internet took 18 minutes, compared to less than 9 minutes for the average 2-GHz dual-core notebook. You could probably boost performance a smidge by ordering the E-100M with a 1GB memory chip in its single slot, but that costs $200 extra.
The E-100M's standard three-cell battery underwhelmed us, lasting a mere 1 hour, 58 minutes. An optional six-cell battery, which extends beyond the back of the unit, costs $119.
For desktop cable management, Gateway offers a bar port replicator that attaches by a short cable to a proprietary docking connection on the notebook's left side. You also get the Microsoft Works 8 collection of small-office business applications.
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