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Gateway slims down in U.S.

The computer maker will launch its cutting-edge all-in-one LCD PC in the U.S. tomorrow, possibly presaging a new wave of computer designs.

Gateway will launch its cutting-edge all-in-one LCD PC in the U.S. tomorrow, possibly presaging a new wave of computer designs.

Gateway is already selling the computer in Japan. The cutting-edge design packs all the computer's electronics into the back of a 15-inch liquid crystal display (LCD).

Other companies such Matsushita Electric Industrial and NEC sell similar designs.

These space-efficient designs have been driven by necessity in Japan but may also become highly practical in the U.S., because they are now more affordable due to declining component costs and the rapid decline in LCD prices in previous years.

Gateway will sell one version for $1,999 and another for $2,299. Though more than the standard desktop PC, it's far from the premium of $1,500 or $2,000 that large LCDs alone commanded a couple of years back.

The $1,999 model will have a smaller 4.3GB hard drive while the latter will have a 6.4GB drive. Both systems will come with an ATI Technologies Rage LT Pro graphics chip, DVD drive, a chip for playing back DVD video such as movies, a modem, network card, speakers, and the 15-inch active-matrix LCD.

Both will use a 400-MHz processor from Advanced Micro Devices.

The systems will run Windows 98 and come with Microsoft Works Suite 99 and one year of gateway.net service.

The allure of the design--and conversely the lack of appeal of bulky CRT monitors and clunky desktops--may also begin to drive more people to buy these designs, as people opt for lighter computers and as more of the desktop computer's tasks are done on the "back-end" server computers that drive the Internet.

Other designs in Japan and the U.S. that strive to pack more into a smaller space include a business computer offered by IBM Japan and a new Vaio consumer system from Sony in the U.S.

Like the Sony Vaio, the IBM PC 300 PL Slim marries a slim desktop with an LCD monitor and uses a Pentium III processor.

Monorail was one of the first to sell integrated LCD designs at retail, but these never sold well. One of the problems was that the LCDs were typically small, low-quality, dim passive-matrix screens and, despite using an LCD, were relatively bulky.