Quick look at the Gateway M280 Convertible Notebook

18 Comments

CX200Gateway made Tablet news recently with the announcement of the Gateway CX200 Convertible Notebook as it is the first Tablet PC with a wide-screen display.  A lot of people have been waiting for the new Tablet to appear in the wild because it seems like a very solid notebook computer that is also a Tablet PC.  I am evaluating the M280 which is the big brother to the entry level CX200 and I have to tell you that so far I am very surprised.  I have been an advocate of smaller and lighter devices for a very long time and while that hasn’t changed I am quite amazed how quickly I am getting attached to the big Tablet.

The M280 I am evaluating has a 2 GHz processor, 1 GB of memory, 80 GB hard drive, dual layer DVD burner, and ATI graphics with 64 MB of VRAM.  The M280 has a 14 inch swivel wide-screen LCD that runs at WXGA (1280 x 768) resolution which makes for some awesome web browsing in portrait.  The Gateway has the most vivid and bright LCD screen I have seen on any Tablet PC, and it’s a wide angle screen to boot.  The digitizer had some issues when I received the unit but reimaging from the recovery partition has made them disappear, with the exception that it’s necessary to press a little harder with the pen than I am used to.  Not a deal breaker for me.

Gateway M280Gateway has produced a very good notebook computer in the M280 that is very, very fast.  It has a very solid feel and everything is snappy and is fun to use as a laptop.  It is worth repeating that the screen is just awesome and I am very happy with the overall performance of the Gateway.  I am not a trackpad person but the trackpad on the M280 is outstanding and I find I prefer to use it instead of plugging in a wireless mouse. 

I must commend Gateway for not polluting the M280 with all the crapware that other OEMs find necessary to preinstall.  The only preload is Norton Anti-virus and while it’s not my favorite program of this type I agree that OEMs almost have to preload an AV solution so owners can get protected from day one.  Kudos to Gateway for not going overboard with the M280.

The M280 is a great notebook computer but that’s not why we Tablet heads use convertibles, is it?  It’s the slate and ink and the Gateway delivers that and then some due to the large wide-screen.  The most used app on my computers is OneNote and taking notes on this Tablet PC in portrait is great.  I can see so much of the page and it’s great to work with.  The pen on the Gateway has a very good weight and feel and duplicates the pen experience very well.  There are no soft buttons on the M280 but there are four buttons and a joypad on the side of the screen.  These buttons provide screen rotation, a programmable button that defaults to launch Windows Journal but I have set to open OneNote, a joypad mode toggle button and a button that performs a Ctrl-Alt-Del which is a convenient way to access the Task Manager or shut down the computer.  There is even a lock button to prevent accidental button presses while in slate mode.

All in all the M280 is a very solid convertible Tablet PC and is a good fit for those wanting a heavyweight convertible Tablet PC that is a real desktop replacement notebook computer yet is also a Tablet.  This device is worth taking a look at if you are one of those users that spends most of the time in notebook mode but needs a Tablet from time to time.  The M280 is pretty large and heavy but that’s the price you pay for that sweet giant screen.  The Gateway M280 Convertible Notebook will be available soon on the Gateway web site while the CX200 is available now.

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention the M280 comes with a 12 cell battery that attaches to the back of the notebook and forms a firm grip.  I am seeing 4 hours battery life with minimal power management.

18 Comments

sandra

because i am really impressed with all the quality of the laptop but i need to know how much all of that would equal up to!!

Megan

I want to buy a convertible, but I’m not sure which brand is better and in good price. I heard about Dell starts making a convertible notebook. Is it true? And when will it comes out for sale?

Mike

JK,

Thanks for this review. I had seen a Gateway convertible at Best Buy and was interested in it a little bit. It is probably the home model CX200, so I would be more interested in this model as I ama professional developer.

Have to do more research but thanks for the good start.

Dahron

To Todd, To All:

About two days ago, I did get an e-mail from the person who handled my order (which, as far as the ordering goes, Gateway has been great: good follow-up, very helpful, personable sales person both on phone and by e-mail), saying that the engineers were working on a tweak to the pen that would push shipping out to the first of next week on some (mine included) systems. Maybe they’ve heard the complaints, and are already trying to address them.

As someone who’s already placed an order (!), I’m going to hope that such is the case.

All the best, and I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
Dahron J.
Vanderbilt Divinity School
Nashville, TN

XStylus

On the CX200 the processor is soldered onto the motherboard and cannot be upgraded. Is this the same on the M280?

Todd

Unfortunately, there seems to be a few “negative” posts on Tablet PC Buzz regarding the inking experience. Hard to argue that it’s not a good Tablet given the specs and price, but…

Dahron

To All:

I may be wrong, but I believe the actual physical structure of the CX200 is different than the M280. Beyond the Dell-like differences between personal/home use Inspiron and network/business class Latitutdes, I think the chasis of the M280 is a magnesium alloy frame, and that it is something not quite so robust on the CX200? I know that the M280 does have a chasis like this, and I thought that one of things they advertised as a difference between it and the CX200 was the chasis, but I could be remembering wrong. It also explains why the CX200 is supposed to weight less–again, if I’m remembering correctly. I’ve got a delivery date of my M280 on the 19th; I look forward to learning its abilities.

All the best, and I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
Dahron J.
Vanderbilt Divinity School
Nashville, TN

Wesley

Thanks JK for making me feel better! I was starting to get worried when I heard over at the buzz about the pen problems. my first Tablet experience wasn’t that great: I didn’t heed the advice in the forums and first went with a C3500. It ended up being a dud, so I got a refund and ordered a CX200 right after they were announced. I am dissapointed that it doesn’t use Wacom technology, but it seems like a really nice machine otherwise. Now if it’d just get here. Like Tom Petty said, “The waiting is the hardest part…”

jk

Wesley, I have been using the M280 in my work for a week and it is a fine Tablet PC. While it is a big adjustment carrying around such a large Tablet this is offset by having the large screen for taking notes. I am growing to really like it. And mine is really FAST!

HPClean

M280 have TPM Security chipset (TPM 1.1) and CX200 don’t have it. This chipset could be use with the fingerprint reader on M280.
M280 is a corporate Tablet PC, CX200 just a Home and Education Tablet PC

Wesley

I think the main difference is the market segments at which the computers are aimed:

CX200-home and home office
M280-business
SC-7200-education and government

So the extra pressure necessary isn’t a deal breaker with this computer? I have a CX200 on order and since I have learned that it uses Finepoint and not Wacom technology, I have seriously thought about canceling my order. The stories about the pen issues have me concerned as well.

The CX200 offers so many great features for the price, but I want a decent tablet experience also. Jk, I trust your input: The bottom-line: does the M280 offer a good tablet experience or is simply a notebook with tablet features offered as an afterthought?

Todd

What does the M280 have that the CX200 doesn’t? The stock config listed for the CX200 is different than your 280, but it can be upgraded at purchase.

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