Neowin at Digital Life 2007: Gateway One

Looking at the Gateway One, it's pretty easy to see where Gateway found their inspiration. At first glance, the thing almost looks like an iMac that fell into some glossy black paint. This is one of the few times, though, where one should look past the obvious copy cat design and look at what the system has to offer.

One of the most obvious details that Gateway loves to point out is the idea of only one single wire running out of the back of your PC. The One uses a single power cable which runs to a larger brick. The power brick has a trick up its sleeve, however. The power brick is home to an Ethernet connection and four USB connections (additional to the three present on the main unit of the One) which are designed to be used with more permanent connections such as a printer or whatever else the kids are connecting these days. It's a nice idea that can become handy very quickly.

Moving to the PC itself, everything is wireless. Included in the packaging are a wireless keyboard and mouse and remote control. The keyboard itself is pretty standard and the remote control is a stock Gateway remote and is there for use with Windows Media Center. The mouse, however, takes a slightly different, less standard, approach. For some reason, Gateway decided to ditch the standard scroll wheel and replace it with a scroll pad. Even the gentleman presenting the unit to me had a tough time getting the scroll to work properly. It just seems like Gateway wanted to innovate in every aspect and nobody told them to stop at the mouse.

Behind the One's 19" 1440x900 display, lies what most of you care about, the guts of the unit. The unit opens from the back to reveal a beautifully clean interior, which, much like everything else about the One, features no wires. At the bottom, you'll find an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a minimum of 2GB of RAM. On the left side is the housing for Mobility Radeon 2600 HD graphics card and the 802.11n wireless chipset sits on the right. Smack in the middle of everything lie two hard drive slots. Out of the factory, the One comes preloaded with a 320GB to 500GB hard drive (depends which model you get) in the slot on the left with the buyer having the option of popping in their own drive in the slot on the right. Both slots support up to 1TB drives and the system can be configured in either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 setup if you wish to up the geek factor a bit. Other than the hard drives, though, there's not much room for upgrades in the One. You can add a wireless card if Gateway were to release one down the line and the graphics card can be upgraded via a daughterboard, though again, that relies on Gateway releasing one on their own accord.

Besides the mouse, I do have a few complaints. With all of the innovation presented with the One, Gateway decided to include a rather standard USB webcam that has to be docked on top of the monitor. A built in camera would have been much more enticing. They did build in the speakers, though. Gateway decided to use the entire panel of the unit as a speaker, claiming it to be an "8.1 speaker setup". Let's not even get in to that and get to the fact that this isn't a recipe for good sound quality. Looks like you'll need to have a wire coming out of the side for your webcam and another wire for better speakers.

All in all, the Gateway One is a very nice PC and perfect for the average home user. The One offers a beautiful balance of power and finesse without making many sacrifices. While power users and hardcore gamers may feel a bit put off by the limited upgrade options, most users should be more than pleased with the horsepower they get out of the box and when it looks this good, life is only that much better.

You can expect to find the One on shelves for between $1299 and $1799 (depending on which model you get) starting by the end of October. It will be exclusive to Best Buy for "a few weeks" before making its way to all retailers.

Gateway One: Front | Side | Inside | Power brick

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In all fairness, if you were to make the cheapest iMac comparable to this system, you're looking at spending almost $1,400. However, the iMac is 20" and has a somewhat better video card. The processor speed is the only item I can't see, so that's harder to compare, but it'll likely be 2.0 or 2.4. Six here, half a dozen there, I'd pick the iMac over the One.

I haven't heard any warranty information, but if it comes with three year warranty, that's much better than the one year Apple offers. Only $170 to extend to three years for the iMac, but that's an extra $170. It's not an entirely fair comparison since no warranty info has been set just yet, but it's very likely that it will have one year as well, making the iMac all the more appealing.

Now that I've done a bit of research, I can see the details. The iMac is by far a better deal. The $1299 model has a 1.5Ghz Core 2 Duo, uses Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 (gag), and has a one year warranty. iMac ftw in this fight. The $1799 model uses a 2.0Ghz C2D.... am I really seeing this? Surely they could've put in better specs....

The power brick is a clever little idea, I've gotta say. But the huge chin and lack of an adjustable height puts me off. Gateway is headed in the right direction, though: if I were to get a Windows Vista machine but liked the iMac, I'd probably go for this, since then I don't have to buy Vista again.

But I'm still going to buy an iMac