GCN Insider | Handwriting before fingerprints

TRENDS & TECHNOLOGIES that affect the way government does IT

NEWCOMER: Gateway's M285 convertible laptop promises to be popular'as far as tablets go.

At the FOSE trade show in March, a GCN editor asked a Gateway Inc. product manager why the company had not yet introduced integrated fingerprint biometrics into its notebook PC line, as seemingly everyone else had.

The answer, quite simply, was that Gateway hadn't seen real demand for the readers just yet. In these days of heightened information security awareness, we find that interesting, but it's very possible that laptop purchasing cycles haven't yet caught up with biometrics.

What we can't argue with is Gateway's position of strength in the sale of tablet PCs'laptops where the screen flips all the way over so a user can write on it with an electronic stylus.

Although it remains unclear whether the Tablet PC form factor will ever seize the imagination of average users, research firms such as In-Stat continue to see growing adoption, while others, such as NPD Group, estimate Gateway sells more than half the tablet PCs out there. So we'll be anxious to test out the new Gateway M285-E and CX210 Convertible Notebooks.

Gateway rolled out the systems last month with Intel's mobile dual-core processors. The M285-E is the enterprise model and starts at around $1,400. The 14-inch widescreen display, which flips over to act as the tablet, is built flush with the surrounding casing to create a sleek, comfortable writing surface. And if our experience with other Gateway tablets is any sign, the new ones will do an equally good job of seamlessly switching between notebook and tablet mode.

Still no fingerprint reader, but that's just a matter of time. The best thing about the new Gateway systems? Standard eight-cell lithium-ion batteries, which should deliver the kind of long battery life most laptops don't. Heck, Gateway's optional 12-cell batteries usually only cost about $40 more. We'll take one of those.

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