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Two Gateway Firsts Hit Stores Last Week

Gateway Computer marked two firsts last week as it began shipping the company’s first LCD monitor designed for the consumer and professional markets and its first consumer Tablet PC.

Despite plummeting average selling prices for flat-panel monitors, Gateway is placing a great deal of emphasis on this category, said John Schindler, the company’s convergence product planner. Displays are third on Gateway’s corporate priority list behind its professional products and notebook computers, he said, adding that there is a market for larger screen sized, value-added monitors.

“We still see a large stand-alone market,” Schindler said, “We expect [the FPD2185W] to have a decent attach rate with Media Center and other desktops costing above $1,000.”

The FPD2185W is a high-definition-capable 21W-inch LCD with 1,680 by 1,050 screen resolution; it supports picture in picture and has Faroudja’s Directional Correlation Deinterlacing technology. The widescreen aspect screen can pivot sideways for easier Web page viewing and it has an adjustable mount. The unit hit stores on Oct. 6 with a $599 suggested retail price.

Chad McDonald, notebook product marketing, said the $599 price point tied to the 21W-inch screen size makes the FPD2185W a potential monitor attachment to any notebook sale.

“With notebooks making up more than half of all computer sales, this model opens up to us half the computer market,” he added.

The reasoning behind this theory, he said, is there is little benefit in buying a 17-inch stand-alone monitor when your notebook has a 14-inch or 15-inch display. However, with a 21W-inch display, consumers gain enough of extra screen real estate to make the purchase worthwhile.

Shipping on the same day as the FPD2185W was the CX2600 series, Gateway’s first attempt at selling a Tablet PC to the masses. Unlike its previously introduced business models, this was designed from the ground up as a notebook with the tablet functionality added afterward, McDonald said.

The series consists of two units, the CX2610 selling at Best Buy for $1,399, and the CX2608 selling through CompUSA for $1,349. The models are essentially the same with each having a 14W-inch touch-screen display, a 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M processor, 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive and an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900. The Best Buy version features a dual-format, double-layer DVD burner, while the CompUSA model has as DVD/CD-RW drive.

McDonald said Gateway specifically moved away from the ultra thin and light formats used by other Tablet PC vendors instead relying on a notebook with a heavier chassis and stronger hinge for the pivoting display. This not only added strength, a factor found lacking in Gateway’s earlier models, but keep down costs, he said.

McDonald believes Tablet PC functionality may soon become just another feature on mainstream notebooks. He compared the current situation Tablet PC market as being similar to where wireless networking was several years ago, found on a few models or as an option.

“I would expect that in five or six years 90 percent of the market to have some level of tablet functionality,” he said.