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Gateway drops customization from online ordering

Gateway stops offering hardware customization on online orders

From now on, Gateway's desktops are what you see is what you get.

We didn't notice until a few days ago, but it seems that at the end of 2007, Gateway stopped offering hardware customization options in its desktops and laptops purchased online. Instead when you drill down to a specific system (as we did recently while researching the FX540XG for its upcoming review), we found that Gateway only lets you change add-on software and service plan options. You no longer get to make changes to the hard drives the memory or other hardware components.

Gateway tells us it made the change for four reasons:

  • Faster system building
  • Simplified shopping experience
  • Reduced system complexity should lead to better tech support
  • Cost savings from reducing complex IT systems and supply chain

All of those make sense to us, especially when you configure a similar desktop at Dell and watch the price shoot past the Gateway's $2,850 by about $2,000 (with a more expensive chassis and other features). Of course, that also means the Gateway saddles you with a set of 2.1 PC speakers when you might not want them.

Gateway's eMachines brand, which has never offered buyer customization, has been a little hit-or-miss with this model, but mostly hit. Most quarters we're surprised by how much PC you can get for under $500 (like the recent eMachines T3642), but occasionally you actually get less PC for your dollar than the previous quarter. If Gateway can avoid those fluctuations, we can certainly see its new online model benefiting shoppers by narrowing what can seem like a daunting set of choices. And if it can offer a better deal than its competitors in the process, even better.