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Gateway's all-in-one PC to echo iMac concept

Gateway says it will offer an all-in-one PC, dubbed the Astro, similar in concept to the iMac.

    Computer maker Gateway is ready to take on the Apple iMac.

    Gateway said it will offer an all-in-one PC similar in concept to the iMac computer, which for $799 will include a 15-inch monitor, a 400-MHz Intel Celeron processor, and 64 megabytes of memory. The system is priced $152 less than an equivalently equipped desktop PC from the company.

    More than the design or price of the system, Gateway's new "Astro" PC will resemble the iMac in the company's pitch to users: The system easily connects to the Net.

    "We've created the Gateway Astro computer to be very easy to set up and connect to the Internet. You literally just plug in the power cord, connect in a phone line, connect the keyboard, and turn it on," said Todd Bradley, senior vice president, Gateway Consumer, in a statement.

    Apple recently introduced a new low-cost iMac that will sell for $999; by signing a three year Internet service contract with CompuServe, users can get a $400 mail-in rebate. Gateway, in contrast, no longer offers the CompuServe rebate on its systems, and its service is not bundled with the computer. The service is available as a $129 option for one year of service.

    Apple's appeal to consumers from the start has been that the iMac is simple to connect to the Net. Given that most PC purchases these days are being driven by consumers' desire to get online, the move was on target. Apple has said it has sold over 2 million iMacs since August of 1998, and there are orders for 200,000 of the newest versions of the iMac, which are just now starting to ship to dealers.

    While Gateway is echoing Apple's pitch, the company is being careful not to follow in the footsteps of two other imitators. Both Emachines and FuturePower have been sued by Apple for case designs that Apple says resemble the two-toned iMacs too closely.

    Gateway's Astro is using a two-toned grey case.