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Gateway makes notebooks its business

PC maker joins rivals Dell and HP in concentrating on business laptop line. Photos: Notebooks at work

For Gateway, 2005 is becoming the year of the notebook.

As notebook shipments continue to rise, the Irvine, Calif., PC maker on Thursday released the M460, a new system for businesses that weighs about 6 pounds and offers Intel's latest batch of notebook chips, along with 15-inch or 15.4-inch wide-screen displays.

When fitted with twin batteries, including a high-capacity main battery and a spare that plugs into its drive bay, the M640 can run for up to 10 hours, the company says.

Due to its weight, screen size and price, Gateway executives say the M460 will become the company's corporate workhorse--or the portable on which many customers are likely to standardize. The M460 will serve that role by offering a wide range of prices and options. It will replace two systems, including the low-price M405 and the M450, and fit in between the smaller, 5-pound M210 and the big-screen M675, which packs a 17-inch display.

Big-name rivals Dell and Hewlett-Packard also refreshed their business machines earlier this month.

A solid notebook lineup will be important to the growth of companies like Gateway in 2005. Notebook shipments continue to outpace those of desktop PCs, and in some market segments, they have begun to steal sales from desktops, said Chad McDonald, Gateway's senior manager for product planning.

Gartner, for one, has projected double-digit shipment growth for notebooks in 2005. The research firm has predicted that worldwide shipments will rise 16 percent to 54.5 million units in 2005. About 20 million of those machines will go to consumers; the rest to businesses.

But "our goal is to, on the notebook side, outpace the market" in sales growth, McDonald said.

Gateway will have its work cut out for it. Dell launched five new models on Feb. 1, while HP rolled out 10 models, including a new tablet PC, on Feb. 2.

Gateway's M460 will start at about $900.

A M460CS model will come with a 15-inch screen, a 1.3GHz Intel Celeron M 350 processor, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a combination CD burner/DVD-ROM drive and an 802.11g Wi-Fi module for $899, Gateway said in a statement.

Stepping up to a 15.4-inch wide screen and a Pentium M, as well as adding larger amounts of memory and hard-drive space, and upgrading to a DVD burner, will add about $500 to the price.

A M460XL model will pair the 15.4-inch screen with a 1.86GHz Pentium M Processor 750, 512MB RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a combination DVD and CD burner, and a Wi-Fi module for $1,399, the statement said.

Gateway, which acquired eMachines in 2004, plans to later in the year release an updated version of its tablet PC and a new 17-inch screen portable PC, McDonald said.