Gateway E-100M Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (38,367)

by Kevin Giberson

The Gateway E-100M ultraportable notebook, a sleek, exceptionally attractive offering that utilizes the Intel Core Solo CPU, can be purchased from Gateway’s business oriented websites, while its twin, the NX100X, can be found at the Home & Home Office site. The main difference between the two models is the inclusion of the TPM embedded security chip in the business model, which offers enhanced security by providing various hardware-based encryption options. As of this writing, the E-100M, as configured below, costs approximately $1,570 at the Small Business website. For this price, you would get a basic 1-year warranty and a single 9-cell battery, rather than the three distinct batteries shipped with this unit.


Gateway E-100M ultraportable notebook (view large image)

Gateway E-100M Specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core Solo U1400 (1.2 GHz/2MB L2 Cache)
  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Hard Drive: 80 GB SATA @ 5400RPM (manufactured by Fujitsu)
  • Screen: 12.1″ WXGA Widescreen (1200 x 800)
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
  • RAM: 512MB DDR2 SDRAM @533 MHz (1 x 512MB)
  • Optical Drive: External USB 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW)
  • Battery: 3-, 6- and 9-cell lithium ion
  • Wireless: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945 a/b/g + Internal Bluetooth
  • Weight: 3.15 lbs (with 3-cell battery; steps up to 3.87 with 9 cell)
  • Trusted Platform Module: TPM embedded security chip
  • Dimensions: 0.9″ (H) x 11.41 ” (W) x 8.93″ (D)
  • Ports/Slots: 1 IEEE 1394 (FireWire), 2 Universal Serial Bus (USB 2.0), 6-in-1 removable memory card reader, 1 Type II PC Card Bus Slot, VGA monitor out port, RJ-45 Ethernet LAN, RJ-11 modem, headphone/speaker jack, microphone connector
  • Price: Starting at about $1,418 through the Small Business site

Obtaining the Notebook

This notebook came directly from Gateway for the purpose of this review and, as indicated, included three batteries, as well as the external optical drive, a standard feature.

Initial Impressions


Gateway E100 with included external optical drive (view large image)

When I received the E-100M, removed it from the box and fired it up, the first thing that struck me was its beauty.  I found myself captivated by its exceptional integration of form, function and substance.  I wondered if the lack of an internal optical drive might eventually detract from using the E-100M, but given the notebooks good looks and portability I was able to easily overlook this one minor deficiency.

Right away I liked everything about the E-100M’s looks: the black cover; the solid yet svelte magnesium build; the absence of largely redundant buttons, such as those for adjusting the speaker volume; the subtle, discreet blue indicator lights, all at the base of the touchpad except for the power light, just below the right LCD hinge. Indeed — the size and look of this notebook had me yearning to travel the globe just so I could show it off!

Design and Build

The design, once again, is exceptional. The E-100M is as visually appealing as any notebook I’ve ever used, including a ThinkPad T40, which I also found very attractive for many of the same reasons, though I find myself more inclined toward the look of the Gateway because it is so exceptionally clean looking and small.

The build quality of the E-100M shines, as well. There is no part of this particular machine that feels cheap or flimsy. The hinges seem strong, and the latchless cover snaps gently into place. I see no evidence of any build flaws that might lead to this notebook having trouble withstanding the rigors of regular travel.


Top view of Gateway E100 with 3-cell battery (view large image)


Top view of Gateway E100 with 6-cell battery (view large image)

Each of the three different battery sizes offers a somewhat different look and feel. The 3-cell battery is the only one that doesn’t extend beyond the back of the case; it is quite tiny and flush with the back of the notebook. The 6-cell extends beyond the rear of the case approximately one-half inch, same as the nine cell, which also raises the back of the notebook a half inch or so, being about as deep as it is wide. From the point of view of aesthetics and comfort, all three batteries work well, but I found myself sticking with the 9 cell after testing the other two batteries, simply because the additional three-quarters of a pound or so made no difference to me while carrying the notebook around the house, and I found the slight tilt and elevation of the keyboard no problem at all while working; and, of course, the 9 cell lasted a lot longer than the other two batteries.


Front side view of E100 (view large image)


Right side view of E-100 with 9-cell battery (view large image)


Left side view of E-100 with 6-cell battery (view large image)

Screen and Graphics


Gateway E-100M screen (view large image)

The 12.1-inch matte screen on this model is virtually flawless and the 1280×800 resolution suited me during all the usual activities: office suite applications, Internet use, DVD viewing. The LCD brightness control provided a good range of settings, and I found one level below the maximum to be to my liking. The integrated GPU provides plenty of graphics power for anything this notebook might reasonably be asked to do.

Sound

Sound is fine, even somewhat better than expected, given my low expectations. As is well known, notebook audio almost always benefits significantly from headphones or external speakers, and the E-100M is no exception. Don’t expect a full, rich listening experience from this or just about any other notebook’s internal speakers and you won’t be disappointed.

Processor and Performance

While the Core Solo U1400 is not a top-level performer, I found that for everyday office, multimedia and Internet use, performance was just fine. I didn’t expect the E-100M to process like some of the Core Duo machines I’ve used recently, and it didn’t, but this did not detract from my overall opinion of this notebook. It is not intended for CAD, gaming or intensive video editing, so I wouldn’t expect the E-100M to be comparable in these tasks to a notebook weighing three times as much or costing significantly more.

I felt that expecting the E-100M to handle CPU- and RAM-intensive tasks with all the ease of a powerful desktop, and then being disappointed when it couldn’t, was akin to marrying a fashion model with an advanced degree in medieval history and then being shocked, once we settled into our new home, because she refused to move the refrigerator by herself and replace all the drywall in the kitchen. Most every creature has its charms, but few if any creatures excel in everything. I suppose there’s no absolute reason why beauty and refinement can’t exist together with brute power, but obtaining all three in a reasonably priced package seems to defy realistic expectation.

Benchmarks

Super PI (calculating pi out to 2 million digits):

SuperPi

Machine Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Gateway E-100M (Core Solo 1.2 GHz) 2m 2s
Samsung Q1 UMPC (900MHz ULV Celeron) 3m 6s
Fujitsu LifeBook P1500D (1.2GHz ULV Pentium M 2m 23s
Fujitsu ST5000 Tablet PC(1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M) 2m 37s

 

PCMark05 yielded an overall score of 1648 PCMarks, comparison and then details are in the below tables

PCMark05

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Gateway E-100M (1.20GHz Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage) 1,648 PCMarks
Fujitsu Q2010 (1.20 GHz Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage) 1,943 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Intel T2300) 2,879 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400) 3,646 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite M70 (Pentium M 1.86GHz) 1,877 PCMarks

 

PCMark05

 

HDD — XP Startup

6.26 MB/s

Physics and 3D

50.75 FPS

Transparent Windows

178.69 Windows/s

3D — Pixel Shader

12.42 FPS

Web Page Rendering

1.76 Pages/s

File Decryption

29.51 MB/s

Graphics Memory — 64 Lines

285.72 FPS

HDD — General Usage

4.22 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 1 / Audio Compression

697.03 KB/s

Multithreaded Test 1 / Video Encoding

90.03 KB/s

Multithreaded Test 2 / Text Edit

31.81 Pages/s

Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Decompression

7.23 Mpixels/s

Multithreaded Test 3 / File Compression

1.33 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 3 / File Encryption

7.36 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 3 / HDD — Virus Scan

6.96 MB/s

Multithreaded Test 3 / Memory Latency — Random 16 MB

6.35 Maccesses/s


HD Tune performance scores for the included 80 GB Fujitsu drive:


(view large image)

Keyboard and Touchpad


Gateway E-100 keyboard view (view large image)

The full-size keyboard on this E-100M was excellent, with the keys having comfortable travel and responsiveness, and the non-alphanumeric keys possessing a size and placement that was not difficult to get used to. There were no problems with the touchpad, either, though it was somewhat stiffer than most I have used, requiring a rather firm press, though not to an extent that I found annoying or bothersome.


Gateway E-100M keyboard and optical drive (view large image)

Battery Life


9-cell, 6-cell and 3-cell battery lined up for comparison (view large image)

I generally kept LCD brightness one notch below the maximum, left wireless enabled and used a USB mouse. Under these conditions, while making regular use of Internet Explorer and the OpenOffice.org office suite, as well as intermittently running the External optical drive and benchmarking software, the following results where achieved before the battery-remaining indicator dipped to below 10 percent:

Battery

Time

3 Cell

1h 40m

6 Cell

3h 50m

9 Cell

5h 40m

 

Heat and Noise

This notebook ran very cool and quiet, doing as well in these areas as any notebook computer I’ve ever used. Heat and noise were never issues, and I was able to use the E-100M on my lap without any real warmth or discomfort at all. Palm rests stayed cool, as well.

Wireless

The Intel 3945 ABG wireless performed as it has with all the recent laptops I’ve used: no real problems, but depending on the notebook, it seems to have a special affinity for either the Intel wireless management utility or the one provided by Windows, with one or the other of these utilities being slightly more inclined to drop the wireless connection, without any apparent reason, or at least any reason I’ve been inclined to pursue. In the case of the E-100M, the Intel utility seemed to work better, never dropping the connection, while the connection was dropped a couple of times during the Windows management of wireless.

Service and Support

I have had no reason to call for support. A 3-year, on-site, next-business-day warranty, which I did not include when coming up with the price estimate at the beginning of this review, currently costs an additional $230 on the Gateway Small Business website.

Software

Virtually all of the pre-installed software was actually useful, so I didn’t find myself wasting time removing unnecessary, marketing-driven programs that practically no one would want. Everything behaved as it should, with no unpleasant surprises, and startup and shutdown were clean.

Conclusion

The E-100M is a beautiful, well-built notebook possessing both an excellent keyboard and a fine screen. During two weeks of use, I really found nothing to recommend against it and plenty that makes it seem like a fine option for those desiring exceptional looks and portability at a reasonable cost. I will be sad to see it go. The one thing that may engender some reluctance on the part of a buyer is the lack of an internal optical drive. While this wasn’t an issue during the course of this review, a frequent traveler who enjoys watching DVDs on airplanes might view the external optical drive as a serious drawback. It’s not as if this limitation is impossible to overcome, but available workarounds will not appeal to everyone. Nor will this notebook be especially appealing to those who refuse to sacrifice desktop-type performance for the sake of beauty and stellar portability. All in all, however, the E-100M brings together a fine mix of components designed for portable, battery-powered, everyday computing, in a package that is extraordinarily appealing.

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Highly portable
  • Excellent build quality
  • Outstanding keyboard
  • Good screen
  • Cool and quiet
  • Excellent battery life with the 9-cell battery

Cons:

  • No internal optical drive
  • Performance, while fine for most things, is limited by the single-core CPU

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