UPDATE: Gateway One invades iMac territory

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Irvine (CA) – Gateway today announced a stylish new desktop PC that likely is the best interpretation of Apple's iMac for the Windows PC space yet.

 

 



Visually appealing PC boxes you do not need to under your desk or in a closet are following one of the major trends in the premium desktop PC market today. Dell has been catering to this segment with its mobile desktop XPS M2010 for more than a year and Hewlett-Packard recently has introduced its Touchsmart PCs. Now there is Gateway that is taking a shot at this market as well.

While Glenn Jystad, Gateway's manager of consumer desktops, told us that Apple products had "zero influence" on the design of the One, there are visual similarities. Gateway picked up the one-box design idea and created a package that could find its way into places other than the just home office. Gateway itself suggested that the One could fit into areas such as a kitchen or a living room.

Gateway has put a lot of brainwork into this system and has come up with quite a few interesting solutions. For example, the design of the casing with a 19" LCD is kept very simple and clean from the outside. With the exception of the power cable, there aren't any cables, as all permanent peripheral connections, including, keyboard, mouse and printer – are kept wireless (if you have a Wi-Fi capable printer). The power cable is a bit thicker than usual, as it carries 24 other lines down to the - also slightly larger than usual - power adapter. However, the power adapter integrates four USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet interface as well as audio/video connects for temporary peripheral connections.

The main case of the One integrates on one side a DVD burner; the other side houses ports for a 5-in-1 memory card reader, Firewire and three USB devices as well as microphone and headphones jacks. Jystad said that upgrades can be installed easily: The chassis, only 3.6" deep, can be opened like a "pizza box".

 

 

Gateway is offering the PC in three standard configurations, tww for retail and one for sale through the company's website. The two retail PCs are priced at $1300 and $1800 and come with either a Core 2 Duo T5250 (1.5 GHz) or a 7250 (2.0 GHz) processor, with 2 or 3 GB of memory, 320 GB or 500 GB of hard disk space, an integrated graphics chipset or an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 chip, as well as a 1.3 megapixel webcam in either case. The direct sales version comes with the T5250 CPU, 2 GB memory, a 400 GB hard drive, an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 GPU and the webcam for $1500.

From what we have seen so far, the Gateway One may be the best design yet to rival Apple's iMac, which is especially interesting as Gateway appears to have had a close look at the iMac and then came up with a way to enhance the iMac for the Windows market: Sorry, Gateway, we just don't buy that the iMac had no influence on the One's design.

While we have to agree that the new Gateway PC is a visual stunner, we also believe it is not quite perfect and there are some features missing. To us it was a bit surprising to hear, given the extensive design work that went into the device, that there is no bracket included that would allow users to mount the One to the wall in tight spaces - for example, in a kitchen. Such a bracket is available as an option at this time, but Jystad said that Gateway is thinking about including a mounting bracket into upcoming versions of the PC by default. Also available as an extra is a (USB-based) TV tuner, which we also believe should be included as a standard feature, given the fact that Gateway pitches this system as a potential kitchen PC.

If placed in a kitchen, or a living room, the user interface probably could have seen touchscreen functionality, or at least the integration of the mouse into the keyboard, as well as an intuitive way to store the keyboard when the PC is not in use.

When directly compared to the iMac in a premium family application, the One's biggest disadvantage may come from a view of available applications. While Apple has done a remarkable job assembling a coherent package consisting of hardware and software, new Windows PCs often come with a patchwork of third-party programs that are tacked onto the operating system. Jystad conceded that Apple "has done some clever things in the application space" and noted that some applications that may be required to make a PC like the One more appealing "just do not exist yet in the Windows world."

But as PCs get more attractive, "developers will find out that there is an opportunity" for applications that are specifically designed for this class of PCs, Jystad said.