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Gateway adds fingerprint sensor to notebook

Like some other hardware makers, the company is coming to grips with a biometric feature it says will help protect data and keep test takers on the up and up.

Gateway on Wednesday announced that one of its notebooks can be equipped with a fingerprint sensor to prevent access to e-mail and files by unauthorized users.

The sensor is an optional feature that can be built into the palm rest of the Gateway 450+, the company said. The biometrically equipped notebook is aimed at security-conscious government agencies and corporations, as well as schools that want to authenticate identities for test taking and distance learning.

Device makers have been starting to come to grips with fingerprint readers. MicronPC sells a portable computer with a fingerprint recognition sensor. Last year, Sony introduced a flash drive featuring a fingerprint identification system.

"This is a security measure that is easy to implement and does not require a major transition to a new technology like smart cards," Mike Stinson, vice president of Gateway's mobile products group, said in a statement. "It also addresses the important issue of minimizing ongoing IT costs associated with password management."

The Gateway 450+ weighs 6.11 pounds and is 1.3-inches thick. It uses Intel's Centrino wireless technology, including Pentium-M processors running at 1.5GHz, 1.6GHz or 1.7GHz. The notebook is available with Windows XP Home or XP Pro software.

The new offering is set to become available Thursday in more than 185 Gateway stores nationwide at a starting price of $1,799.99.