Normally I don't get this jazzed about desktop PCs, but the Gateway One is special. From the sleek yet substantial design to the quiet, powerful core, it's a real statement, especially from the cow-pocked South Dakota underdog.
Let me take you on a guided tour:
Setup is as easy as a laptop. Connect the power adapter to the main unit, and you're rollin'. The wireless keyboard and seamless "river rock" mouse are pre-paired. The main unit has everything you need and nothing you don't. Its beautiful 19" widescreen LCD has a resolution of 1440x900. Beneath the screen are speakers hidden under the glossy plastic face. They are NXTs, but they sound better than any NXTs I've ever heard.
To the left side is a panel with three USB ports, a FireWire port, a 5-in-1 memory card reader, audio output for speakers and microphone in.
There's a USB camera that sits on top, nestled into a mini USB port. It's got a built-in microphone. (I guess I lied. Gateway could have gone even more minimalist: you really don't need the speaker or mic jacks at all!) The camera makes the box look a tad dorky, but you only need it when you're Skyping, so who cares?
On the right-hand side is a disc slot. The drive is what you'd expect on the premium end, a super multi DVD burner with double-layer capability—not that you'll ever use it to its full extent. Blu-ray and HD DVD read and write are not yet available.
The power brick serves a very cool function as outboard media hub. It's got four USB ports of its own, plus SPDIF and optical audio outputs to connect to an A/V receiver (for up to 7.1 surround sound), plus an IR blaster jack and an Ethernet port. In other words, Gateway has smartly hidden all those ugly but essential wires at your feet, instead of letting them stick out of your computer. The One has but one cable, sticking out of its chrome-plated rear end.
Ethernet is optional. Gateway pulled an Apple and integrated serious Wi-Fi in there. It's got MIMO, 802.11a/b/g and even N Dual Band, if you are so equipped. Good future-proofing. Another example of future proofing is the second SATA II drive slot, right next to the first slot, which houses a 500GB 7200rpm drive. (RAM access is just as easy.)
There's more in the box if you want it, including a analog/digital TV tuner and a USB fax/modem. I skipped them for now, but you never know.
The remote reminds you that this, like every other Vista Home Premium or Ultimate system, is also a Windows Media Center Edition PC. So the tuner might come in handy, though I'd prefer CableCard.
For having a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and an ATI HD 2600XT video processor, it even runs fairly quiet. Gateway says under 30dB. It also uses a third less power than traditional desktops.
The premium Gateway One will be sold at Best Buy exclusively for $1,799. Two other lower-powered editions will be sold at gateway.com for $1,299 and $1,599. All of them will feature all of the pieces I've shown in this demo.
I may have some negative things to say later but for now, I am a true fan. It's the thoughtful design elements make the Gateway One unique, and uniquely enjoyable, and I'll leave you with three examples:
• You use the touch-scroll mouse intuitively, without thinking, even though it's not the typical mouse interaction.
• The Media Center remote's d-pad is all one piece, built for full-tilt thumb action.
• In the rear, a chrome hinge rests on a broad wheel. Not only does this allow you to tilt the seemingly immobile body, but it acts to brace the One in the event it gets jarred.