Gateway presents a sleek Profile

Tired of your PC taking up precious real estate on your desk? The Profile PC - recently introduced by Gateway Inc. and coming soon to the General Services Administration schedule - incorporates the best desktop features with the space-saving abilities of a notebook computer.

The first thing you will notice about the Profile PC is its sleek shape and design, which belies the true power behind this desktop innovation. Sleek yet functional, the entire unit is only 7 inches deep (including the pedestal) and weighs 18 pounds.

The Profile PC comes with a computer built directly behind a 15-inch LCD flat-panel display, and easily accessible floppy and DVD-ROM (or CD-ROM) drives are mounted vertically on each side of the display. The standard desktop or deskside chassis is no-where to be found.

Using the Profile PC turned out to be fun and easy. The XGA TFT screen - which at 15 inches offers almost as much viewing area as a 17-inch standard monitor - rises above a small speaker pedestal on a swivel mount that makes adjusting the eye level of the screen quite easy. Gateway put all the controls on the front panel of the screen, including the on/off, sleep and screen-control buttons. Also conveniently located on the front are a microphone, a headphone port and a volume-adjustment knob.

The Profile PC comes with expansion ports on the rear of the pedestal as well as on the rear of the screen. Access to the ports is easy because of the Profile's light weight and small footprint - no more long stretch to reach the back of a traditional chassis. It comes with sound input and output ports, modem and network ports, two Universal Serial Bus ports and two Type II PC Card slots. The system also features keyboard and mouse ports, a VGA port and a MIDI port for joysticks or multi-media-related peripherals.

But the Profile PC offers substance, not just style. Gateway made this a fully network-manageable computer; it includes Wake on LAN and other aspects of DMI 2.0 that enable systems administrators to manage a desktop remotely.

The Profile PC we tested came with an Advanced Micro Devices Inc. K6-2 400 MHz processor, along with 64M of SDRAM (expandable to 256M), a 6.4G ATA hard drive, an integrated ATI Technologies Inc. Rage Pro video controller with 4M of SDRAM and an integrated 3Com Corp. 10/100 Ethernet chip.

Our unit shipped with a DVD-ROM and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98, but a CD-ROM drive and Windows NT 4.0 also are available.

Our benchmark tests showed the Profile PC runs about 20 percent to 25 percent slower than a similarly configured Intel Corp. 400 MHz Celeron system. Even though the Profile PC is not a speed demon, we found that its performance for standard desktop tasks such as word processing, e-mail, spreadsheets and even World Wide Web surfing was more than adequate.

Overall, we have few negative things to say about the Profile PC, although we did come up with a wish list for future models. In particular, we would like to see a wall-mountable version, and we also would not mind increased horsepower and possibly a touch screen.

In the end we found the Profile PC easy to set up and light enough to effortlessly move it around on a desk. To top it off, we couldn't ask for a more user-friendly design.

All this is available for a price of $2,199. Gateway's Profile PC represents a good case for why small and functional might be the wave of the future for desktop computing.

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