Have notebook, will travel

If you're looking for an ultra-thin notebook that offers a good set of features,

consider Gateway Inc.'s newest lightweight offering, the Solo 3300.

The small size, in addition to snazzy styling, makes the unit an eye-catcher.

The blue-tinted magnesium alloy case offers greater protection than plastic

without adding any noticeable weight to the one-inch-thick unit.

In fact, our unit weighed a mere 3 pounds, 11 ounces with the battery installed

and 5 pounds, 11 ounces with the battery, AC power adapter and external

DVD-ROM drive. Even though the length and width measures just 10.5 inches

by 8.5 inches, the Solo 3300 features a full-size keyboard and a 12.1-inch

thin film transistor display.

Our Solo 3300 came with a 500 MHz Intel Corp. Pentium III processor, 128M

of memory (expandable to 256M) and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98 (the system

is also available with Windows 2000). A 6G hard drive comes standard with

the Solo 3300, but users can upgrade to a 12G hard drive.

As with all ultra-thin notebooks, a few features had to be compromised to

achieve the small size and light weight. There are no internal drive bays;

instead, there is one external bay that accepts a floppy drive, a CD-ROM

drive or a DVD-ROM drive. Many of the internal multi-bays found in full-size

notebooks accept a second battery, but the Solo 3300's bay does not.

The drive bays are not hot-swappable, but the battery is warm-swappable,

meaning you can replace the battery when the notebook is in standby or suspend


In addition, the Solo 3300 features just one Type II/I PC Card slot instead

of the usual two found on full-sized notebooks. The slot also can accept

a Zoomed Video card, which is a PC Card that enables video input for applications

such as MPEG decoders for movies and games, TV tuners, live video input

and video capture.

Performance was a little on the slow side, with a score of 198 on {http://www.bapco.com}

Business Applications Performance Corp.'s SYSmark/98 suite of real-world

benchmark tests. Scores for 500 MHz systems with Windows 98 and 128M of

memory typically fall between 200 and 210. The system scored 190 for office

productivity and 208 for content creation.

Battery life was good for such a small notebook. The Solo 3300 scored a

96.12 on BAPCO's SYSmark 98 for Battery Life test, running for two hours,

18 minutes and 21 seconds and completing 1.87 loops.

Gateway chose not to use a processor with Intel's SpeedStep technology because

of value and performance issues, but next month the company plans to introduce

a model that does include SpeedStep. SpeedStep is designed to prolong battery

life by slowing down processor speed when using battery power.

The Solo 3300 features a VGA video port, a parallel port, a PS/2 mouse/keyboard

port and a USB port. It also has microphone and headphone jacks. The system

does not have an infrared port or user-programmable multifunction buttons.

The notebook comes network-ready, with an integrated 3Com Corp. 10/100 network

adapter as well as an integrated v.90 modem. The modem cable comes bundled

with the system.

Multimedia devices include a 2X AGP video adapter with 2.5M of video memory,

integrated 16-bit sound, stereo speakers and an internal microphone.

Gateway bundles three rescue CD-ROMs with the system: an operating system

backup disk, an application restoration disk and a restoration disk containing

drivers, backup software and more.

The system is loaded with Norton Antivirus 2000 and features a shortcut

to Gateway Internet sites. The documentation is excellent and includes a

quick-start guide, a user's manual, and maintenance and trouble-shooting


The Solo 3300's $2,399 price puts it in competition with more full-featured

notebooks. The tradeoff here is clear: Give up a few built-in features

in return for a light, slim, highly portable notebook.


Solo 3300

Score: B+

Gateway Inc.

(800) 846-2106


Price and Availability: The Solo 3300 is available on the GSA schedule for$2,399.

Remarks: Although this system is not a speed demon, it's eye-catching, highlyportable and comes with a good set of features.

BY Michelle Speir
October 04, 2000

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