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Gateway spiffs up all-in-one PCs

With its eye on rival Apple, the computer maker refreshes its Profile 4 line of desktop PCs by adding features that include a DVD burner, and by dropping the price of one model.

Gateway revitalized its Profile 4 line of all-in-one desktop PCs on Friday by adding features that include a DVD burner, and by dropping the price of one model.

The Poway, Calif., PC maker quietly increased the minimum processor speeds and hard-drive sizes for two of its three Profile models for consumers, while adding a DVD burner to the base configuration of its top-of-the-line Profile 4XL. The new configurations were posted on the company's At Home Web site Friday morning.

In the past, Gateway has aggressively targeted Apple Computer's iMac with the Profile 4, whose components are built into the area behind and below its screen. A major criticism of the Gateway line had been that it lacked a DVD burner.

The new features, including the DVD burner and a price that's $100 lower for the entry-level Profile 4S model, could help Gateway match Apple's latest crop of iMacs more closely. Gateway said the Profile 4's new configurations also also meet customers' expectations for the machine.

"We listened to customers and watched configurations. We found that people--especially in this category, where there are lot of enthusiasts--were looking for more complete, robust configurations," said Philip Osako, a product marketing director at Gateway.

Other than the added DVD-RW drive, the Profile 4XL model remains the same. Built around a 17-inch LCD screen, it sells for $1,999 and includes a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, and a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Gateway boosted its midrange Profile 4X model with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4, an 80GB hard drive and a combination CD-rewritable/DVD-ROM drive. The desktop, which is also built around a 17-inch LCD, sells for $1,599. Previously, the machine's standard configuration included a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 and a smaller hard drive.

Customers can add a DVD-RW drive to the machine for $170, increasing its price to $1,769. Apple's newest iMac model, which includes a DVD-R drive and a 17-inch screen, sells for $1,799.

Meanwhile, Gateway is offering its Profile 4S with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 and a combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. The machine also includes a 15-inch LCD panel, 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive. Where Gateway's previous Pentium 4-based Profile 4 machines had started at $1,499, the Profile 4S sells for $1,399, Osako said.

The Profile 4S model also can still be ordered with a 2.1GHz Celeron chip. The switch drops its price by $130 to $1,269, according to Gateway's Web site. That price is $30 less than Apple's latest entry-level iMac, which includes a 15-inch screen and sells for $1,299.