For whatever reason, the majority of the laptops we get sent for review tend to be larger Desktop Replacement (DTR) models. While there is nothing inherently wrong with such a laptop, there are many people out there that are far more interested in portability and mobility. We have looked at 14", 15.4", and 17" notebooks in the recent past, but it's been some time since we last looked at anything that could truly be called "thin and light". Gateway answered our request for such a laptop by sending us their E-155-C, which also holds the distinction of being the first convertible laptop/tablet PC that we've had the opportunity to review.

The component selection for the E-155-C is clearly targeted at the thin-and-light crowd, focusing on lower power requirements rather than raw performance. The question of course is whether it still packs enough power to run all the day-to-day tasks that people use. Like most new laptops, Windows Vista is also an option for the E-155-C, which will certainly increase the demand on system resources. Windows XP Tablet Edition can also be selected in the online configurator, but we opted to test with Windows Vista. Not everyone is going to want to run Windows Vista, but we felt it was important to see how the laptop manages to run the new operating system; Windows XP certainly won't be any slower than Windows Vista. It's also worth nothing that all versions of Windows Vista now support tablet PCs - you don't need a special Tablet Edition any more.

Given the components used, there is little doubt that the E-155-C will at best struggle to run any serious 3D games or computationally intensive applications. As we stated in our recent review of the HP dv6500t, however, for many users that will not be a concern. The GMA 950 integrated graphics are capable of running the Vista Aero Glass interface, and that's about as far as the targeted users are likely to push the graphics in this type of notebook. One of the unfortunate drawbacks of the thin and light segment is that besides packing less powerful components, prices also tend to be higher because you're paying for the diminutive size. The test unit we were sent currently retails for about $2000, and even the base 1GB configurations runs $1800 or more, so you're basically paying for the tablet PC interface and a lighter notebook while sacrificing performance.

Can the Gateway E-155-C satisfy the target market, or will they be left wanting? Let's take a closer look.

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  • elom - Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - link

    This deal has been horrible for the companies that had existing warrenties with Gateway. MPC has still yet to get there act together and it is now April. My company has had 28 of these machines down since the begining of the year and only half have been fixed. I have NBD on-site service and I am not seeing anywhere close to that. I am moving to another PC manufacturer ASAP.
  • tacoburrito - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link

    With the 6 cell battery, this thing will weight over 5 lbs. Not really an ultra-portable in the classical sense, is it? But it seems this is what we have to put up with if one wants the Tablet features. Lenovo, Toshiba, and HP already have sub-3lbs notebooks in their catalouge running similar specs to the Gateway. Can you review those instead, if you want to do an ultra-portable review?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link

    As always, we review what we get sent. Needless to say, I'm not about to go out and spend $2000 on a notebook just to provide free press for a company. I've tried to get in touch with Lenovo, without much success. I'm working to get some stuff from Toshiba and HP that falls in the ultraportable range, so we'll see.

    Honestly, I'm not quite sure why the notebook is so heavy relative to others. The case does feel pretty durable, however, so that's probably a large part of the weight question. The display doesn't really feel much heavier than a normal laptop LCD - certainly not more than a few ounces. Anyway, lightweight and flimsy may not be the right way to go either - I'd probably take the extra pound if it means the display hinges and other parts don't break after a year or two.
  • bldckstark - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    I'm disappointed to see that Lenovo hasn't responded to your requests. I would really like to see their V and X series ultraportables up against the competition.

    I bought my wife the Lenovo V series laptop that is almost an exact twin of the Gateway reviewed here, with the exception of the convertible screen. It is quicker than my desktop 3800+, weighs 4.4lbs with the 6 cell battery, and gets 255 mins runtime on, all for $1,250. It really puts the Gateway to shame. At least this time I didn't buy an expensive piece of electronics just to go online a month later to see a review of a cheaper, faster, better device that makes me want to throw up.

    What I can't compare at home though is the LCD screen quality versus the Gateway. I would like to see if the Lenovo screens are better, worse, same. Especially on the V series versus the X/T series.

    This makes me really want to see the Lenovo T60 reviewed to see how much dust the Gateway would be eating.
  • jonp - Friday, July 20, 2007 - link

    I'd vote to add a Lenovo T61, p/n 7662 with the T7500 CPU, 2GB RAM, 7200rpm hard drive, XP Pro to a future review.
  • Athlex - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link

    Any chance of getting a photo of the keyboard and touchpad/trackpoint?

    Baffling that laptop manufacturers are putting "docking" ports on the sides of notebooks instead of the bottom. HPQ seems to be doing the same thing on their consumer stuff.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link

    Sorry about that - I actually had the image on our server but forgot to update the first page before the article went live.

    I'm also a bit baffled about the docking port on the side... but then I don't see much reason for docking stations these days. All I really need is mouse, keyboard, and display - if I want more than that from a laptop, I'd probably get a nicer laptop rather than worrying about spending the money for a docking station.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 5, 2007 - link

    If you connect keyboard/mouse/monitor every day (or multiple times a day) it is probably convenient to only have to make one connection instead of 3. also, some docking stations offer ports the laptop does not - for example, most (if not all) thinkpad docking stations have DVI ports even though the laptop itself does not.

    One reason this might be heavier than other tablets is the included optical drive - lots of the ~3lb ones ditch that, and the whole case can shrink as a result.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, July 5, 2007 - link

    Gateway does list the laptop as weighing .3 lbs less with a "weight saver" - I'm guessing a plastic piece that fills the ODD slot. I do have to say that ditching the DVD - except you would have an external unit - isn't a good move IMO. That's just marketing trying to cut weight at all costs. I suppose I could live without a DVD in a pinch, but I really wouldn't want to.

    People that will spend $200+ to save themselves two connections are a bit out there, I'd say. The DVI port could be useful, but plenty of laptops have those anyway. Heck, ditch the docking port connector and give us DVI and we'd be set. Heh.
  • Verdant - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link

    a lot of people seem to refer to the screens as "touch screens" i thought they used some sort of circuit that involved the stylus. Do tablets have a "touch" or "digitizer stylus" screen? Or do both exist?

    Personally i would prefer non-touch screen as writing on those can be difficult with my left-handedness.

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