Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 Retail Laptop and Desktop Back-to-School roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.
On the plus side, the Gateway One ZX6900-01e boasts a 23-inch screen, a Blu-ray drive, and fast performance, all of which sounds even better when you consider its $999 price tag. In the negative column, both its touch screen and its touch software need more work, Gateway missed an opportunity by leaving off HDMI input capability, and its wireless mouse and keyboard are a pain to connect. For our money, the pluses win out. Almost in spite of itself, the Gateway One ZX6900-01e is one of the most well-rounded PCs under $1,000. We recommend it to anyone, especially those who can forgive its relatively minor shortcomings.
The Gateway's design should look familiar to anyone who has followed the all-in-one market over the last year or so. The black case is accented by chrome and clear plastic, giving it perhaps a less polished feel than all-in-ones from Apple and HP, but it's still classy enough to put on display anywhere. We wish the stand in the back offered more granular range of motion, but otherwise there's little about the ZX6900-01e's physical design that we'd change.
We would like Gateway to take some of this system's technical elements back to the lab, though. The touch software is a standard array of apps that we've seen in past Gateway and Acer all-in-ones. You get a map program, a paint app, a few games, a media browser, and some other apps, none of which is particularly inspiring, but they're also more or less inoffensive. The bigger issue is the the touch screen itself, which lacks responsiveness to the point of causing frustration, especially when the system can't recognize your touch input to "peel" back the corner graphic to move between the touch apps and the main Windows desktop. We're not convinced that touch input is necessary for desktop PCs, but it will never achieve acceptance with poor implementations such as this.
We also wish Gateway had had the courtesy to pre-pair the wireless mouse and keyboard with the system at the factory. Having to pair them at all is bad enough, but the pairing process is also unintuitive. You'll almost certainly need to dig into the manual to figure out how to do it.
|Gateway One ZX6900-01e||HP TouchSmart 300-1120|
|23-inch, 1,920x1,080||20-inches, 1,600x900|
|2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530||2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e|
|4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM||4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM|
|64MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip||256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200|
|640GB, 7,200 rpm||750GB, 7,200rpm|
|Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless|
|Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
As irritating as those shortcomings might be, we're willing to forgive the Gateway due to the benefits it offers. Its 23-inch display is probably its chief asset, and at that price it makes trouble for vendors at both ends of the price spectrum. Next to the $899 20-inch HP TouchSmart above, for example, the Gateway looks like a downright bargain at $999. The ZX6900-01e also makes life difficult for the 21.5-inch iMac, which starts at $1,199. The iMac is both faster and better looking than the Gateway, and if we needed an all-in-one for productivity, Apple would still likely get the nod. But this Gateway and its large screen and Blu-ray drive beat the iMac easily for those of you looking for a home-entertainment PC.
It's almost not worth comparing the Gateway with the $899 HP TouchSmart, since the Gateway is so much better for only $100 more. You'll find them both available at retail nationwide, though, so they're probably a reasonable match. In addition to its larger screen, the Gateway's Core i3 processor is significantly faster than the TouchSmart's low-power AMD chip. The HP has a slightly larger hard drive, and we like its touch software better, but those are really its only advantages. Given the Gateway's speed and superior features, its victory in terms of overall value is hard to argue.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
Our benchmark tests demonstrate the Gateway's clear advantage over its Windows desktop competition. HP, Sony, and others offer all-in-ones over $1,000 that would likely compete with this Gateway, but the ZX6900-01e posts a convincing win over Windows-based all-in-ones under four figures. Alternatively, Apple's most affordable iMac separates itself from the Gateway by a fair margin on most of our tests, the one exception being CineBench, which leverages the Gateway's dual-core Core i3 chip and its HyperThreading feature to emulate a quad-core CPU when a program calls for it. On that test, the dual-core iMac falls behind.
What that means is that for most common types of productivity scenarios, the iMac is the better bet performance-wise, but if you have a particular app that will take advantage of a multicore CPU, you might still consider the Gateway. In either case, if performance is a concern, we'd pick this Gateway over any other Windows all-in-one under $1,000.
Its features and its performance make the Gateway ZX6900-01e a compelling PC for its price, but we have one last nit to pick. The Gateway's connectivity options are mostly reasonable for a PC in this price range. You get a handful of USB ports, an SD Card slot, various analog audio inputs and outputs, as well as an eSATA jack for fast external data transfers. We also appreciate the HDMI output, but this system would be an Editors' Choice winner if the HDMI also supported video input. With that feature facilitating cable box and game console connections, this system would be the best home entertainment hub available for the money. Without it, the ZX6900-01e is still a good deal, but its input issues become a bit more apparent.
|Gateway One ZX6900-01e||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.88|
|Sleep (10 percent)||1.99|
|Idle (25 percent)||43.14|
|Load (5 percent)||70.26|
|Annual energy cost||$19.09|
Despite its large display and fast performance, the Gateway posts competitive power consumption numbers. Next to the Gateway, it's hard to justify HP TouchSmart's power draw, especially considering its smaller screen and slower performance. None of these PCs are overly inefficient or expensive to operate, but we still find the differences between them interesting from a competitive standpoint.
Gateway's service and support policies are in line with the rest of the industry, although the company finished last in a recent Consumer Reports survey on customer service satisfaction. At least on paper, Gateway offers a yearlong warranty, 24-7 phone support, and a variety of support resources on its Web site.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Acer Aspire Z5610
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570; 320GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive
Apple iMac 21.5-inch
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.1; 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7600; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate Digital hard drive
Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP All-in-One 200-5020
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3270 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive