Have a cow: Gateway unveils Solo

Gateway has gone gunning for a wide spectrum of potential portable buyers with its announcement of two new Solo notebooks: the thin-but-powerful 5300 and the budget-minded 1150. The versatility of the 5300 should make it popular with everyone from students to business professionals, says Ray Sawall, Gateway product manager. Gateway is taking orders now and shipping units immediately. The basic 5300 weighs under 5 pounds and is just 1.4 inches thick, he says. Gateway builds each 5300 to order, but the company offers a few basic configurations. The basic model is a 500MHz Celeron, 32MB of memory, 8MB of video memory, a 10X/24X CD-ROM drive, a 6GB hard drive, a V.90 modem, and a 12.1-inch display. The next step us is a unit with largely the same hardware and software, but with 32MB of additional memory (64MB total), a larger 14-inch display, and a faster 600MHz Pentium III chip. At the top of the range you get a 650MHz PIII, 64MB of memory, 8MB of video memory, an 8X DVD, a 10GB hard drive, a V.90 modem, and a 14-inch display. All three systems come with Windows 98 Second Edition. Gateway's new 1150 notebook, also on sale Monday, should appeal to style-minded individuals, says Mike Ritter, director of consumer product marketing. Its black case design bears an attractive cow-inspired pattern of gray rubber texture pads. The pads make the unit easier to grip. The 1150 is available in two basic configurations, Ritter says. The lower-end version includes a 500MHz Intel Celeron processor, 32MB of memory, a 5GB hard drive, a 10X/24X CD-ROM drive, a V.90 modem, and a 12.1-inch passive-matrix display. Above this you get a 550-MHz Celeron, 64MB of memory, a 6GB hard drive, a 10X/24X CD-ROM drive, a V.90 modem, and a 12.1-inch active-matrix display. Both units include Windows 98 SE. In addition to its unusual visual flair, the 1150 is also distinctive by being largely legacy free. Gateway has left out the serial and parallel ports, and the problems they can cause. Instead the unit has two Universal Serial Bus ports and a VGA port--for connecting the system to a monitor. Gateway decided to keep the 1150 to two configurations partly to help eliminate confusion for first-time buyers, Ritter says. It limits the number of decisions they need to make when buying, and helps keep the price down, he adds.

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