The problem of non-functional built-in card readers in laptops seems to be fairly common, whether the operating system is Vista or XP. In my laptop, the reader worked OK with a memory stick card, but not an SD card. When an SD card was inserted, the slot was totally dead. I gave up for a while and bought an external card reader that plugged into a USB port, but now the problem has been solved. It took a while to find the fix for my Gateway MX3560 laptop.
Fix: In many Gateway laptops, and in a lot of other brands of laptops, the flash card readers is a Texas Instruments PCIxx21 Integrated FlashMedia Controller. The xx will be numbers, but the same driver
seems to work for a variety of models. Look in your Control Panel, System, Device Manager to see if that is the kind of reader that you have. The problem was that the original TI drivers
just did not work, and the Gateway.com web site did not list the updated driver for my laptop model. However, the right driver was buried deep in the site. To find it, first select Support, then Drivers & Downloads. In the drivers & downloads search box, enter "TI Media Card Reader Driver". I selected the driver D20009-000-001.exe, dated 5/8/2009, downloaded it, and followed the directions to install. Success! The card reader works perfectly now !!! Good luck with your laptop.