Gateway One at DigitalLife — are All-in One PCs an Alternative to Laptops?

by Reads (7,256)

The Gateway One was unveiled at DigitalLife this week and I had a chance to play with it a bit. Some are accusing Gateway of just copying the Apple iMac all in one computer, but Sony has their VAIO LT series which is also the same concept and we’ll be seeing more of these types of machines from other manufacturers before the end of the year. But is the interest there from consumers for these devices?

Before addressing that question, let’s take a look at the Gateway One that was announced on Thursday at the DigitalLife show in New York.

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The Gateway One is very much like the Apple iMac, the screen and all components are contained within the same panel shaped case that rests on a desktop. The optical drive is on the side and a keyboard is wirelessly paired so you’re free to move about. The screen on the Gateway One is 19", slightly smaller than the 20" Apple iMac. The Gateway One uses a mobile Core 2 Duo processor, at the moment the options are an Intel T7250 (2.0GHz) or T5250 (1.5GHz). Following are the full specs for the One:

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 or Intel Core 2 Duo T5250
  • Chipset: Intel GM965
  • Screen: 19" Widescreen TFT Active Matrix LCD (1440×900)
  • Memory: 2GB up to 4GB
  • Hard Drive: 320GB to 500GB on board storage
  • Graphics: Intel X3100 or ATI Mobility 2600XT
  • Ports: 7 – USB 2.0 Ports (3 on the chassis, 4 on the power module), 1 – IEEE 1394 Port (Front), 5-in-1 media card reader, headphone out, microphone in,  1 – IEEE 1394 FireWire Port (Front)
  • Audio: 8-Channel (7.1) High Definition Audio, Integrated NXT SoundVu Speaker Technology
  • Optical Drive: Slot Loading 8x DVD+-R/RW SuperMulti Drive
  • Input: Premium Wireless Multimedia Keyboard, River Rock Wireless Optical 2-Button Touch-Wheel Mouse, Media Center Remote Control
  • Web Camera: 1.3MP built-in
  • Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Tv Tuner: Optional

The keyboard for the Gateway One is paired via IR and has a one-to-one pairing with the machine it is purchased with. The mouse and media remote use the same type of IR wireless, no Bluetooth is included. Gateway is talking a lot about the fact the One is easier to upgrade than either the Apple iMac or Sony VAIO LT competitors. The One gives you easy access to the two memory slots, two PCI Express MiniCard slots and a spare hard drive bay.

A majority of the ports are on the left side:

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While the rest of the ports are interestingly contained in the power brick:

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On the right side you just have a slot loading optical drive and button that puts the machine into a sleep state:

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The wireless keyboard and mouse allow you to roam up to 30 feet away and still control the computer:

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Will All-in-One PCs compete with Laptops for Buyers?

The question arises that, since these all-in-one PCs are geared towards being clean and free of the number of wires a desktop requires, does it make it enticing to somebody that was just looking for a desktop replacement notebook computer? After all, the reason many people get a laptop is just so it’s easier to move when necessary, even if that’s infrequent such as when you move from a dorm back to your home for the summer.

So my question is, would you buy an all-in-one computer instead of say a 17" screen desktop replacement notebook if your only intention for that notebook was to have it sit on a desk in a home? The shared benefits of a notebook and all-in-one computer are the following:

  1. They are portable (though by varying degrees), or at least easier to move than a desktop PC with its multipe parts (speakers, monitor, tower, wires)
  2. They only have one wire to deal with, and that’s the power
  3. The screen is built-in
  4. Speakers are built-in
  5. Both use mobile processors

Major differences are:

  1. The all-in-one does not have a battery and is intended for in home or office use only
  2. The keyboard is not built-in and a part of an all-in-one, it is wireless and detached
  3. The all-in-one is much heavier than a typical notebook, weighing close to 20lbs
  4. There is no ExpressCard or PC card slot on all-in-one machines

Personally, I can see these all-in-one PCs making sense in a home where you’d like a large screen device and be able to sit some distance away and control it. But notebooks are just as upgradeable, if not more so, than current all-in-one PCs on the market (Sony VAIO LT, Apple iMac and Gateway One), so there’s no benefit with the all-in-one being as upgradeable as a typical desktop PC is. In the end it depends a lot on how your lifestyle is, but I mostly see these all-in-one machines further cannibalizing desktop sales and not a viable alternative to somebody that had their mind on a laptop.



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