MPC E-295C All-Purpose Laptop
At a Glance
MPC (Micron PC) MPC (Gateway) E-295C
Formerly sold by Gateway, this fast convertible has a huge screen for a tablet--but it's too heavy to hold for long periods.
As we wrapped up testing the Gateway E-295C in late October, MPC finalized its purchase of Gateway's business laptop line. MPC now offers the E-295C Notebook (actually a convertible tablet) on its Web site but in a slightly different incarnation. The MPC E-295C is quite a bit more expensive--$2168 for the configuration closest to the $1628 Gateway machine we tested--but it also now has a slightly bigger hard drive, the nicer Vista Ultimate operating system, and a longer warranty. This laptop turned in great performance and has a good keyboard and long battery life. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's cumbersome for a tablet and the screen is not very bright.
Our Windows Vista Home Premium review unit came with a 2.2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive; it claimed a sizzling WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 85, the best of any currently tested all-purpose laptop, including four similarly configured competitors from Dell and Lenovo. For instance, both the Lenovo 3000 N200 and Lenovo ThinkPad R61 managed scores of 80, close but no cigar. Compared with the group average of 74 earned by 14 currently tested all-purpose laptops, our E-295C performed 15 percent better.
Battery life was similarly good at 4.3 hours, almost half an hour longer than the group's 3.9-hour average. Better yet is the battery life of the 12-cell upgrade, which we also tested: That lasted an impressive 6.2 hours.
However, aside from allowing even more freedom from an electrical outlet, the bigger battery would not improve this unit's appeal as a tablet. Already weighing 7 pounds with the rear battery functioning as an unusually deep and cumbersome grip, the E-295C is too heavy and too wide to comfortably hold in the crook of your arm for very long. Also, the 1280-by-768, 14.1-inch screen could be a lot brighter; even when lightened all the way up, it was on the dark side.
The machine suffers from several smaller design annoyances too. For instance, switching from notebook to tablet mode takes longer than it does on other units because the E-295C does not automatically rotate the picture from landscape to portrait orientations--you have to manually press a button for the screen image to rotate. In general, the tablet buttons (especially the four-way multifunction) could be easier to use, and the stylus should be easier to release--it requires feeling around for a separate latch on the bottom.
All that said, the E-295C is a comfortable notebook with a sloped keyboard and a responsive screen that's quick and easy to write on. If you can live with the dimness, the E-295C could double as a nice, roomy, landscape-oriented writing and sketch pad for your desktop. Remember, though, that it's heavy--don't plan on toting it for long periods.