capsule review

Gateway E-155C

At a Glance
  • Gateway E-155C

    PCWorld Rating

    This is one of Gateway's handsomest efforts, but battery life is not good for a laptop that doubles as note-taking device.

The E-155C is Gateway's nicest convertible tablet notebook yet. The small dark unit is stylish, easy-to-use, and sturdily crafted. The price-- $1850 as of August 15, 2007, for our test unit--isn't bad for this class of portable. But so long as Lenovo continues to make the better-running $2333 ThinkPad X61 Tablet, you'll have to weigh whether saving a few hundred bucks is worth sacrificing performance and features for.

The E-155C's look and feel are uncharacteristically sexy for a Gateway notebook, with a stylishly curved rear, an external battery gauge, a spring-loaded stylus, and a carbon fiber-reinforced keyboard. The laptop's weight is reasonable at 4.9 pounds including a 12.1-inch screen.

The screen's metal-alloy uni-hinge makes it easy to swivel, but pushing in the lid latch to lock down the screen is an extra step that other tablets don't require--though it's pretty easy to do and takes only a couple of seconds. Inputting data via the stylus is as smooth as silk; the display doubles as a touch screen, so you can use your finger if you prefer.

The tablet has a somewhat limited palette of features. You get only two USB ports, for instance, and no ExpressCard slot. The E-155C also lacks the ThinkPad X61 Tablet's ability to rotate the screen automatically between portrait and landscape orientations as you rotate the notebook.

The E-155C is somewhat sluggish, and its battery runs down much too fast for a note-taking device. Our test unit was equipped with a 1.06-GHz Core 2 Duo U7500 chip and 1GB of RAM, a shortcoming that resulted in a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 45. (You can purchase the E-155C with up to 4GB of RAM.) Though moving through menus and jotting notes in the input panel seemed quick, the E-155C slows down more than the ThinkPad X61 Tablet when trying to accomplish tasks such as burning DVDs or working in multiple windows. Battery life (2.3 hours on a single charge) was the most disappointing aspect of the unit.

If you need an ultraportable notebook that can also serve occasionally as a nice tablet, the E-155C is a good choice, assuming that you don't mind carrying a power adapter. For heavy work or extended periods in the field, however, look for a convertible that offers better battery life.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This is one of Gateway's handsomest efforts, but battery life is not good for a laptop that doubles as note-taking device.

    Pros

    • Nicely crafted
    • Easy pen input

    Cons

    • Screen could be a little brighter
    • Slow, with poor battery life
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