Gateway 200: Ultralight with a low price

Gateway Inc. has jumped into the high-end ultralight notebook computer market with a new entry, the Gateway 200.

At first glance, the Gateway 200 may not seem particularly special. The notebook and its bundled docking station offer the same unassuming — read: not particularly attractive — matte silver finish. The top of the notebook features the boxy, blotchy squiggle that is Gateway's logo. The same symbol is highlighted on the inside, just beneath the unit's 12.1-inch active-matrix display. Truth be told, we'd rather not have our eye pulled from the display, which we found to be crisp and sharp.

The keyboard is nicely designed and has a good feel to it. Gateway has opted for a touchpad as a built-in pointing device. We found the touchpad easy to use, though the two touchpad buttons, butting up against each other and perfectly flush with the surface of the unit, could take some getting used to.

But Gateway has packed a great deal of functionality behind the unit's unassuming interface. The unit we tested came with an Intel Corp. 866 MHz Pentium III processor-M and 120M of RAM. We found the system's performance to be more than adequate. As it is currently shipping, however, the standard configuration includes a 933 MHz Pentium III processor-M and 256M of system memory, which should significantly improve performance.

We also were impressed with the Gateway 200's built-in connectivity. In addition to a modem port and an Ethernet port, you'll find an IEEE 1394 FireWire port and two USB ports. Interestingly, the two USB ports are on opposite sides of the computer, making it easy to conveniently position peripherals. The Gateway 200 also offers a Type II PC Card slot and ports for a microphone and a headset.

What's more, the Gateway 200 includes built-in 802.11b wireless networking. As soon as we booted up the unit, it automatically detected our Cisco Systems Inc. Aironet 350 wireless access point and — voila! — connected us to our lab's network.

The Gateway 200's trim lines (less than an inch thick) and light weight (3 pounds) is possible in part because the floppy drive and CD-RW drive are diverted to the bundled docking station. Even with the computer attached to the docking station, the combined weight and size is comparable to that of most notebook computers.

And, in addition to the two drives, the docking station offers two USB ports as well as mouse, serial, VGA, parallel, FireWire and Ethernet ports.

What is most notable about the Gateway 200, however, is its price tag. Gateway packs an awful lot of capability into this tiny package and delivers it all at a list price of $1,999.

REPORT CARD

Gateway 200

Score: B+

Gateway Inc.

(800) 216-2940

www.gateway.com

The list price for the Gateway 200 is $1,999. Gateway has delivered an ultralight system that is packed with features at an ultralow price that is below the $2,000 barrier.

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