If you are a Windows user looking for a desktop replacement, do not overlook Gateway’s M Series.  I recently was sent one for evaluation. I am impressed!

With a flood of “me, too” Windows computers on the market when it comes to the hardware, it’s nice to see a departure when it comes to color.  Gateway has introduced their 15.4-inch M series notebooks with distinction.  Look at the sharp Garnet Red color!  It’s a high-quality metallic finish with metal trim and a Razr (phone)-like multimedia control panel.

Now that I have your attention visually, let me also tell you about the features and performance.  How about 100% US-based telephone tech support for ALL Gateway customers?  On the tech side, the M Series sports an integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam, powerful Intel Core 2 Duo processors, and a modern HDMI interface so users can connect to a huge flat-panel High Def display.  No, it is not equipped with a Blu-ray player, but you can send standard digital A/V signals out – from the DVD drive and also your on-board digital photos and videos – to be seen and heard on your nice and possibly large digital display.  Gateway does not, like some others, charge a premium price for their premium colors and designs.

With prices starting at $799, the M Series notebook is an important consideration for anyone in the market for a Windows notebook. Look them up at www.gateway.com or call 1-800-GATEWAYGateway computers are sold through Gateway Direct as well as through most major retailers nationwide, including Best Buy, Circuit City and others.

I like the way Gateway markets their computers, too. There are not an almost overwhelming number of choices and configurations, so there is less to confuse shoppers.  When you visit the M Series online, you will see just three base possibilities and not much you can add or change.

The “basic” M series-S model, starting at $799 may be all you want or all you need . . . for now.  However, it has been my experience that buying upscale a level or two will ensure longer usability and less frustration, avoiding the feeling that if only I had gotten a little bit faster, a little bit larger hard drive, more RAM, a longer warranty.  That “if only” feeling is a killer.  Still, the basic configuration may be OK. Consider yourself warned.  This has nothing to do with Gateway.  This same advice applies to ANY computer you may buy.

On this basic M-151S model, you will probably want to add Microsoft Office Home and Student and the recommended 3-year basic extended warranty.  I do not recommend adding Norton Internet Security.  There is a much better way to go for any Windows user. The one and only Windows antivirus software I recommend is NOD32 by ESET. Go to www.nod32.com and buy it there.

Moving forward with this model, with the current $100 discount and adding the items above, the total is just under $1,000. You may wish, on this model or on any similar Gateway configuration to add $50 for the At-Home Service in the 3-year extended warranty. You may wish to add their $100 Accidental Damage Plan, and an additional battery for $150.  However, the basic $1,000 computer is a very good deal as specified.  Click the tab on the configuration page to view the specs and note the size of the hard drive, the amount of RAM and other variables so you can see what you will get with this machine.

If, like me, you find interest in the higher performance M Series-XL, currently starting at $1200 (a good value), there’s not much else to get.  I priced one of these, with the speedy 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor so it would have performance for the long haul, pus Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, three years of basic warranty and the Accidental Damage Plan, 3GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive and other standard features for a cost of $1600.  I think this is a darn fine deal for a speedy new Windows notebook that should have the power and performance to carry the user for the next three years or more.

Any negatives?  Just a few, and they really have nothing to do with Gateway.  While not a true negative, be aware that these notebooks, even though they can easily be a desktop computer replacement, are not really lightweights. They will weigh in at just under six and one half pounds.  It’s just something to be aware of.  Also, again not a problem for most of us, these Gateways do not come with the latest and greatest wireless technology. They are equipped with 802.11b/g technology, while the computer world is moving to the newer and faster standard, 802.11n.  If you are not going to share and transfer large files across your network, then you won’t care, but if you will want to stream video between machines and surf the Internet at full speed simultaneously, then you will not want these computers, at least until they are updated to the new standard.   Again, this is NOT an issue for the vast majority of you.

I have been pleased with the performance of my tester and see no reason why, if Windows is your choice, you would not be similarly pleased with one of these notebooks.

My bottom line?  If a Windows notebook is your choice (as opposed to a Mac), the M Series Gateways would be a fine way to go!

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