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Gateway fine-tunes TV strategy

The PC maker announces four new TV models--including two high-end plasma screens--as it shifts its focus to home entertainment.

Gateway, scrambling to reinvent itself in the midst of a difficult PC market, is expected to unveil four new TV models on Thursday.

The new sets--two high-end plasma screens and two LCD sets--build on Gateway's successful introduction late last year of its first TV set. That model--a 42-inch plasma screen priced well below competitors' models--generated more sales than expected and cemented Gateway's plan to recast itself as a purveyor of interconnected consumer-electronics devices.

Gateway followed the TV set with a DVD player that connects to a networked PC to access digital media files.

"We're putting together all the components to deliver this experience in the home and change the way people interact with entertainment," said Gui Kahl, director of digital solutions for Gateway. "Up until this time, a lot of people have said we've been a one-trick pony, but the pieces are coming together very quickly now."

The new TV sets will try to expand company's position on both ends of the consumer spectrum. The LCD sets--an 18-inch and a 17-inch model--are for customers who want to upgrade but aren't ready for an expensive plasma set. Both models can double as a PC monitor, and the 17-inch model can be mounted on a wall. The 18-inch set goes on sale Thursday for $899; the 17-inch model will be available for $799 in early August.

The LCD sets will be accompanied late this month by two new plasma models, a 46-inch model for $3,799, and a 50-inch model for $6,999, both with features similar to the 42-inch model.

All the sets will be available for in-store purchase at Gateway stores, continuing Gateway's shift from using the outlets as demo stations to full-fledged retail outlets.

Gateway has pledged to deliver 50 new products in 15 new categories this year. Kahl said future releases would likely focus on combining several entertainment devices, such as a TV set with a built-in DVD player.

"What we're looking to do is make technology simple, so customers can enjoy this stuff without having to know what's behind the scenes," he said.