Gateway One: A Pretty Vista All-in-One

When it comes to high-concept PC design, Gateway isn’t the first name to come to mind, but the company seems bent on changing that. The Gateway One is a stylish multimedia PC, clad in glossy black. Its design is reminiscent of Apple’s Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh from 1997, considered to be the predecessor of today’s iMacs. While it isn’t an “iMackiller,” the One definitely adds some pizzazz to a cramped desk space.

The One is nothing if not innovative. Its audio system dispenses with speakers in favor of an NXT soundVu transducer, which creates sound by vibrating the front panel. This works best with vocals; bass and high frequencies are on the weak side. The panel also shields the system’s internal components, including the motherboard and optical drive.

Much of the system is user-serviceable and expandable. To get Inside the One, you lower it onto a surface (screen facing down) and release a pair of tabs that open the back panel, clamshell-style. You can pop SATA hard drives in and out of the two tool-less drive bays. The high-end (GZ7220) version of the One that I tested has an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics card in its Mobile PCIe (MXM) card slot. It’s adequate for 3D gaming, as long as you don’t turn all the eye candy on. One of the system’s two mini-PCI card slots holds a Wi-fi card (for 802.11 a/b/g/n), as well an NTSC/ATSC over-the-air tuner.

The one’s 19-inch screen has a native resolution of 1,440 by 900, lower than its competitors. You’ll need to scale 1080p HDTV content down to fit on the screen, but even so, it looked good. Although current model iMacs have larger screens (20 and 24 inches) than the One, they lack a TV tuner. The One also has a slot-loading, standard-definition DVD burner.

An Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 port, and digital sound ports are built into the power brick, keeping your desk cable-free. Signal pass between the One and the power brick in an elegant “one-cord” solution. The power brick can also charge devices such as MP3 players or phones over USB. But since you’re locked into using Gateway’s power brick, bear in mind that you’ll have to carry it with you if you choose to travel with the One.

Keyboard, mouse and networking are all wireless. A touchpad or pointing stick on the keyboard would have been nice, as the mouse is less wieldy if you lean back with the keyboard on your lap, but that’s a minor gripe. A plug-in, mini-USB webcam comes with the One, but it’s conspicuous and looks rather flimsy. An integrated webcam would have been preferable.

Performance-wise, the One is fast enough to motor through the tasks required of it as a multimedia-centric PC. But since its 2.0-GHz T7250 processor is slower than the 2.4-GHz T7700 in the newest Apple iMac, it was a bit slower on Windows Media Encoder 1:30 (min:sec) versus 1:16 for the iMac. Offsetting that slightly, the One’s extra 1GB of RAM (for a total 3GB) helped it on the Photoshop test (0:55 versus 0:58 for the Mac). You can add yet another gigabyte of RAM, to max out at 4GB.
The high-end GZ7220 that I tested would be overkill I for most users. But the low-end ($1,299.99) and midrange ($1,499.99) models are more compelling and should be considered before you buy that iMac.

Price range
Gateway One: $1,799.99

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