I purchased a used Gateway M275 from an auction and picked it up on Sunday. Here’s my quick review, having had a day to play with it.
When I bought it, the original owners apparently wiped the hard drive to remove any sensitive business information (it was a business auction) and re-installed Windows. Unfortunately, they re-installed the normal version of Windows XP. Fortunately, I have access to the Tablet edition, so I installed that. When the device is in laptop mode, the monitor is a little rickety, as it likes to swivel a little bit. Otherwise, however, it’s a pretty good Gateway. It doesn’t have a nub between the G and H like my other Gateway does, and its touchpad isn’t quite as good (it only has two buttons below the touchpad and a scroll bar built into the right side of the pad) as my M460, which I really like.
Anyhow, after re-installing with the Tablet edition of Windows XP, I figured I would try things out for the real use: tablet mode. When you swivel the monitor around and lay it back on the keyboard, you can enter tablet mode. At that point, the laptop is a heavy notepad. Writing is fairly easy to do, and after getting Firefox to display scrollbars on the left-hand side, I decided to try to do the same for all applications, given my sinister nature. Unfortunately, it appears that Windows does not have an option to change the default position of its scroll bars. That ruined that idea…
One thing I really like is that the “rotate 90 degrees” button is built into the monitor as a button. So far, I have used the tablet vertically, so I have to rotate it a couple of times to get things in the correct position. It would have been nice to use a gyroscope to figure out which way the tablet is turned, but if you lay it flat, I guess that could cause some problems. Anyhow, I don’t like laying this flat because the LCD starts getting dark if you aren’t staring at it almost head-on.
All in all, it’s pretty nice considering how much I paid and that it’s a few years old. The screen isn’t quite tall enough to make Firefox browsing in vertical mode a joy—many webpages tend to want relatively wide screens, so you don’t get too many columns in the middle on pages in 1024×768 mode (well, 768×1024 actually), and that’s the highest that’s supported by the graphics card. The 512 MB of RAM is also a little low, but it wasn’t by the standards of the time, and there’s a free slot for additional RAM and a maximum capacity of 2 GB.
Oh, and one final thing: it does get pretty hot, so if you’re going through a 4-hour design session, you will feel the laptop in the end.