Gateway weighs in with contender to NetPC

Gateway had sealed the diskettes in baggies inside a plastic bag almost as big as the
E1000 itself. This starter kit might be necessary if the E1000 didn't have a CD-ROM drive,
but it comes with one as standard equipment.


Price is certainly a consideration for network computers and NetPCs, and a single
CD-ROM would have cost less than 87 disks.


And let's not forget the convenience and time savings of loading software from a single
CD. The compact E1000 offered little room for expansion. There were no extra bays,
internal or external.


One RAM slot for dual in-line memory modules stayed vacant, but access to the RAM bank
required pulling a latch and flipping the hard drive out of the way.


Because sound, video and a network adapter were integrated on the motherboard, the PCI
and shared PCI/ISA card slots were vacant. Two Universal Serial Bus ports and the standard
array of parallel, serial, mouse and keyboard ports were compactly situated on the unit's
back.


The E1000's integrated S3 Inc. Trio4V2/DX video gave good performance and resolution,
as high as 1,280 by 1,024 pixels. But the viewable area was small on the 13.9-inch
diagonal EV500 monitor. The monitor didn't skimp on performance, however. It had excellent
on-screen commands and displayed images well.


In all areas but video, the test unit, a standard 166-MHz Pentium, performed slightly
better than a 166-MHz Gateway 2000 P5-166 tested earlier this year [GCN, March 17, Page
37]. The processor was tucked beneath the 31Ž2-inch drive and had its own cooling
fan. A cooling fan for the interior sat inside the 14- by 16-inch chassis.


Getting inside the case was a snap compared to the P5-166, which required loosening
seven screws. The E1000 had only one thumbscrew and a couple of latches. Of course, this
access means the E1000 doesn't meet the true definition of a NetPC because it doesn't have
a lock to prevent accessing the interior.


Gateway's World Wide Web site lists the only E1000 available to the government as a
166-MHz Pentium MMX, not the standard Pentium. Incidentally, the recently redesigned Web
site has an area for government buyers with lots of data and configuration planning.


The E1000's small profile does limit expansion, but it will be adequate for most end
users who do a little e-mail and word processing. One drawback: It's only $100 to $200
cheaper than its full-sized brethren. But if the price drops below the $1,000 level, the
E1000 might find a niche. And hey, Gateway, please put the software on a CD-ROM.


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