Gateway's latest business notebook, the E-475M, sports an elegant design, strong wireless performance, and a spacious 100GB hard drive for storing all of your documents, photos, and music files. Factor in the lengthy battery life from the default six-cell battery and compatibility with 802.11n, and you have a good all-around performer that just may be worth the $2,106 price tag.
The 6.5-pound E-475M is housed in a textured black body, with the Gateway logo emblazoned across the top and a silver strip outlining the bottom half of the machine. Flip the lid and you'll find a crisp, 15.4-inch LCD with a 1680 x 1050-pixel resolution, although it could be brighter. The widescreen display offers enough real estate for engaging in a host of productivity tasks including editing documents side by side and working in multiple windows. We tested the LCD with a movie and discovered that our Finding Nemo DVD looked colorful and detailed. Viewing angles were excellent from all but the most extreme angles (view photo gallery).
The 14.3 x 10.1 x 1.4-inch body accommodates a roomy and functional--if unspectacular--keyboard, a large touchpad, and a biometric fingerprint reader nestled between two mouse buttons. To the upper left of the keyboard rests a configurable button that launches the control panel or any other application a user selects. We also liked the illuminated indicator buttons that glow a rich shade of blue when the notebook is powered up.
In addition to the dual-layer 8X DVD-RW burner, the Gateway E-475M has four USB 2.0 ports scattered along the left and right sides of the machine, and FireWire for connecting accessories. S-Video and VGA outputs are available for feeding visuals to an external monitor, and a Type II PC Card slot, Bluetooth, and a 7-in-1 memory card slot round out the connectivity options.
The Gateway E-475M packs a speedy 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a new 800-MHz FSB, part of the new Santa Rosa platform, and a solid 2GB of RAM under the hood, which translated into an impressive MobileMark 2005 score of 256. On our F.E.A.R. test, the ATI Mobility Radeon X2300 graphics (with 256MB of shared memory) performed at a decent clip, maintaining a semi-smooth 50 fps on the autodetect settings (640 x 480 pixel-resolution). When we bumped the game's visuals to maximum resolution (1024 x 768 pixels), the notebook choked and dropped the frame rate to an unplayable 12 fps.
Even more potent was the machine's battery life; the 8-cell battery included with our configuration cranked out 4 hours and 16 minutes of productivity. If you need more runtime, the optional 12-cell battery ($60) will give you a rated 6 hours of power. Users who need even more juice can opt for an additional 6-cell modular battery ($109) that swaps out with the optical drive, which, when partnered with the 12-cell, provides more than 8 rated hours of computing.
On our wireless tests, we saw strong throughput performance of 17.4 Mbps from 15 feet away from our access point and 16.1 Mbps from 50 feet. Early adopters will be happy to learn that the E-475M is 802.11n-ready (also attributable to the new Centrino platform. The notebook became quite warm after a few hours of use, but the internal fan was one of the quietest we've heard.
The E-475M comes with a basic software bundle that includes Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0, Google Toolbar, Microsoft Works 8.5, and Norton AntiVirus. Windows XP Professional runs under the hood, but we would have liked see Vista included, as the system certainly has enough graphics muscle to support the Aero interface. The E-475M also comes with a three-year limited parts and labor warranty.
If you're looking for a reasonably priced notebook that can handle most of your work and play functions, the Gateway E-475M is an excellent, all-purpose choice.
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