Too Much of a Good Thing?

Review: Gateway's M285-E has big features, hefty weight

With a 14-inch widescreen display, a full-size keyboard and the latest Intel processor, Gateways M285-E tablet PC is a machine for users who dont want to make sacrifices to have tablet functionality.

The M285-E may provide too much of everything, though. The screen provided plenty of real estate for jotting down notes or for drawing during eWeek Labs tests, but the systems size and weight—a bulky 7.3 pounds—made it cumbersome to use in tablet format. In fact, the unit was much easier to use as a desktop replacement or in our laps.

Nonetheless, with Intels Core 2 Duo processor and graphics capabilities from ATI Technologies PCI Express card, the system will provide plenty of performance.

For a starting price of $1,449, the M285-E comes with Intels 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 processor, 512MB of RAM, the integrated Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 950 and a 40GB hard drive. This configuration also includes a CD-ROM, a seven-in-one media card reader and an integrated Intel Pro/Wireless module capable of accessing 802.11a/b/g networks. The tablet also comes with the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 operating system.

Our test unit raised the stakes with Intels 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600 processor, 1GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. This configuration is priced at $1,949 and includes an upgraded GPU—ATIs Mobility Radeon X1400 (64MB)—which is beefy enough to handle drawing applications used by CAD designers and architects.

With this combination of processing performance and graphics capability, the M285-E we tested was on par with other business-class notebook machines weve looked at from a graphics and performance standpoint.

Our unit came with an integrated dual-layer DVD burner and a full-size keyboard. The M285-E features an EZ Pad pointing device and also comes with a stylus pen that is thicker and much easier to grip than those offered by competing solutions.

Converting the M285-E from notebook to tablet mode can be done by swiveling the screen around and laying the back of the display flat on top of the keyboard. The systems hinge is sturdy, and a scroll wheel next to the display allows for easy navigation.

The M285-E has an attractive 14-inch widescreen WXGA (Wide XGA) TFT (thin-film transistor) active-matrix display with a 1,280-by-768-pixel maximum resolution. Writing on the screen was like writing on paper, and we found that the display responded very well to the stylus.

Connectivity options include the tri-band Intel Pro/Wireless module, but we wish that the system had a hardware switch with which we could turn the Wi-Fi on and off. The M285-E also comes with Bluetooth, three USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port.

Our unit came equipped with an eight-cell lithium-ion battery. While the benchmarking program we use to test mobile systems—MobileMark—cannot be used to run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, we were able to get 6 hours of battery life out of the M285-E.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at

Evaluation Shortlist

Lenovos ThinkPad X41 Tablet

This portable tablet PC provides all the features of the companys X41 laptop with tablet functionality; Lenovo is rumored to be releasing a new version soon, though (

Toshibas Tecra M7

Features a 14.1-inch widescreen display and weighs 1.4 pounds less than the Gateway M285-E but does not come with Intels Core 2 Duo processors yet (