Gateway upgrades low-cost notebook

The Solo 1450, which starts at $999, marks the PC maker's latest effort to use low prices to try to gain share in the PC market.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
2 min read
Gateway updated its lowest-priced notebook Monday as part of a continuing effort to use lower prices to gain share in the PC market.

The company's new Solo 1450, starting at $999, offers a 1.2GHz Intel Celeron processor with 128MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive, a 14-inch screen and a DVD-ROM. A CD-rewritable drive is a $20 upgrade over the DVD. That notebook replaces the Solo 1400SE, which had a 900MHz Celeron chip and 256MB of RAM and which sold for $999 after Gateway dropped the price $100 in January.

The Solo 1450 notebook offers a faster chip and a better optical drive than comparable systems from competitors such as Dell Computer and Toshiba, but it also uses a lower-cost, lower-energy nickel metal hydride battery.

The machine accords with Gateway's strategy for 2002 of cutting prices and, where appropriate, offering better hardware than competitors do. It's a strategy designed to help the company win back customers and boost market share--at the expense of profitability--after a less-than-spectacular performance in the fourth quarter of 2001.

Dell, for example, recently introduced new notebooks--the $949 SmartStep 100N and the $999 Inspiron 2600--both based on a 1.06GHz Celeron chip, 128MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and a CD-ROM. However, Dell is offering a free upgrade to a DVD or CD-RW drive on the Inspiron 2600 through April 30.

Though it was designed as a low-priced machine, several aspects of the Solo 1450 can be upgraded. Gateway will allow buyers to step up to a 1.2GHz Pentium III, add 802.11b wireless capabilities, upgrade to a 15-inch display, add up to 512MB of RAM and select a combination DVD/CD-RW drive.

A fully loaded Solo 1450 will cost about $1,800, according to Gateway's Web site.