At a Glance
This light and powerful business laptop comes with a SmartCard reader and a data-encrypting chip for extra security.
A faster processor + the same price = a good deal. This is our second look at Gateway's light yet powerful business laptop, the M255-E, in six months. Our evaluation unit's updated processor and RAM boosted it to the top half among currently tested all-purpose notebooks.
Our test model came with a 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 processor and 1GB of DDR2-667 SDRAM. It earned a WorldBench 5 score of 100, 10 percent better than the mark of 90 earned by our previous review unit equipped with 512MB of DDR2-667 SDRAM and the now-discontinued 2-GHz Core Duo T2500 chip. Notebooks similar in configuration to our current M255 received slightly higher scores but not enough to make a real difference in speed. A Fujitsu LifeBook N6420, for instance, scored 104 (3 percent better), and a Dell M1210 squeaked by the M255-E with a score of 102 (2 percent better).
In battery testing, the M255-E lasted 3.3 hours on one charge of its six-cell battery, about 9 minutes longer than before. Intel did not raise prices on the Core 2 Duo chip; as a result, our refreshed M255-E, if you count the doubled RAM, cost just slightly more than the one it replaced, at $1664 versus $1549.
For equipping a workforce on a shoestring budget, the M255-E can be configured at a rock-bottom price of $1249, including a CD-ROM drive and a 40GB hard drive. Companies with sensitive information to guard will appreciate this notebook's two bonus security tools: a built-in SmartCard reader and the Trusted Platform Module, the somewhat controversial data-encrypting motherboard chip. (Critics claim that it could be used by vendors to spy on users when they go online.)
Particularly if the extra security measures interest you, the light, powerful, revamped M255-E is worth a look.