by CIO Staff

Gateway Launches Thin Notebooks for Biz Users

Mar 30, 20063 mins

Gateway launched two lightweight notebooks Thursday, including its first ultraportable computer since 2002. The latest products are the M255-E lightweight performance notebook and the E-100M ultraportable notebook.

Gateway engineers redesigned the existing M250 notebook to create the M255-E with an eye on the business user, said Ray Sawall, a product manager with Gateway, based in Irvine, Calif.

They ended up with a 5.2-pound notebook with a 14-inch wide screen, Intel Centrino Mobile architecture with Core Duo processor, and modular bays that allow users to swap their choice of a DVD drive, extra hard disk drive, extra battery or a lightweight placeholder. Gateway also offers battery options, so users can pick a six-, eight- or 12-cell battery, getting up to nine hours of use.

In comparison, the E100-M is a 3.2-pound notebook with a 12-inch-wide screen display, a Centrino with Core Solo processor, integrated 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, and the choice of a three-, six- or nine-cell battery powering up to eight hours of use. The downside to its sub-1-inch thickness is that users must connect an external drive to the USB port to view DVDs.

Both models sell for US$1,399 and are available in versions for home or small-to-medium (SMB) business use.

The E-100M is Gateway’s first “ultraportable” since the Model 200 in 2002.

“We’re re-entering that segment now because we see big growth in the industry,” Sawall said. Gateway is not alone; it will have to compete against Dell, Toshiba and Sony for that market.

The M255-E and E-100M are the third and fourth new notebooks of the year for Gateway, after the January launch of the M-465 performance-and-mobility hybrid and M-685 high-end desktop replacement.

Together, the products mark an effort by Gateway to regain success after struggling in recent years since selling its money-losing brick and mortar stores, said Nicole D’Onofrio, an analyst with Current Analysis.

The company has had measured success so far. In 2006, Gateway has used aggressive pricing to capture strong first-quarter retail sales, but it is still struggling in the direct and professional markets, she said.

To regain share in those areas, it will have to compete with Dell and Hewlett-Packard in the corporate enterprise market, as well as fast-growing brands like Acer and Lenovo Group in the SMB sector.

“What we haven’t seen from Gateway is how they’re going to differentiate themselves,” she said. The company’s aggressive pricing may also appeal to some SMB users. But enterprise buyers are less price-sensitive, demanding high-performance features like advanced wireless connectivity and fingerprint-scanning security.

“Integrated WAN is in its infancy in notebooks, but is a technology driver for the professional market. Lenovo, HP and Dell have already come out with that feature, and Gateway needs it to compete,” D’Onofrio said.

-Ben Ames, IDG News Service

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