The M210S is attractively configured for a $1288 laptop, starting with 14.1-inch widescreen that should be just right for people who would like a little more horizontal screen real estate without having to put up with an unwieldy notebook. The M210S will fit on a lap or airline tray table without overhang, and its native resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels keeps screen elements large enough to read easily.
At 5.3 pounds, the M210S is lighter than the other 14-inch wide screen we looked at, the Compaq Presario V2000. The M210S's rear-mounted battery lasted for 3.4 hours. Equipped with the review group's slowest processor--a 1.6-GHz Pentium M 715--the M210S we tested earned a WorldBench 5 score of 69, in line with the marks earned by similarly configured notebooks.
The M210S was a pleasure to use, thanks to a touchpad-equipped keyboard that we found firm, level, well laid out, and easy to type on. An easy-to-read system status panel is conveniently situated beneath the mouse buttons. The power button, located at the top of the keyboard, adds some panache to the keyboard with its oblong shape and bright blue LED. The M210S's fixed, right-side, multiformat DVD drive works well, and a trio of USB 2.0 ports march single-file down the right side of the case, within easy reach. The M210S's memory card reader accepts only SD Cards, but the slot is stylishly tucked under the curved front of the case. We had to feel around for the slot a bit at first but soon came to appreciate how its positioning enabled us quickly pop cards in and out.
All of the audio ports, including a cool volume jog dial, are located on the front. Unfortunately, the M210S's speakers are so weak that you'll probably need headphones to enjoy a DVD movie or external speakers to make a satisfactory presentation. The only common feature that the M210S lacks is a TV-out port--a must only if you plan on watching movies (or presenting work) on a TV screen. The M210S comes loaded with Microsoft Works 8.
The M210S has a removable hard drive and a base 256MB of RAM built into the motherboard. Users can access one upgradable memory slot; it's located in a compartment on the bottom of the laptop.
Gateway's once lavishly designed and detailed printed manuals aren't what they used to be. All you get with the M210S is a small, plain booklet, and the networking information formerly available in print is now offered separately as an Acrobat manual on the hard drive. But the documentation covers everything you need to know about the laptop.
Lightweight and well equipped, the M210S would make a good starter laptop for consumers looking to get their feet wet in the wide-screen world.