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Gateway says goodbye to CD-ROMs

It's out with the old and in with the new for Gateway computers. CD-ROMs and clunky CRT monitors are giving way to CD-RW drives and flat-panel monitors. Then there's price cuts.

Gateway is going modern with its desktops and notebooks.

The Poway, Calif.-based PC maker will no longer offer CD-ROM drives or CRT monitors in standard configurations of computers. Instead, desktops and notebooks will include CD-RW drives, which allow users to record CDs, and desktops will come with flat-panel LCD monitors.

Consumers will still be able to customize their computers to include a CD-ROM drive, but they won't get a discount, so requests for the older drives should be minimal, said a spokeswoman.

Buyers will get a discount if they choose to switch an LCD screen for a standard monitor, but most customers generally go with the standard configurations shown on the Web page and in Gateway Country Stores.

The shift from CD-ROM drives and CRTs has been taking place slowly but surely across the industry. Most computer companies have largely phased out CD-ROMs in favor of CD-RWs, offering CD-ROMs only in the cheapest models.

Standard monitors have also been weakened by the growing popularity and declining cost of flat-panel monitors. Recycling concerns have also cast a pall on CRT monitors, which contain several pounds of lead.

The bulky screens, though, are proving somewhat more resilient. Apple Chief Eexecutive Steve Jobs in January proclaimed the death of the CRT with the release of the new iMac. Less than four months later, Apple released the eMac, an all-in-one PC with a CRT monitor for schools. The reason: Education institutions balked at the price of the new iMac. Apple now also sells the machines to the general public.

Price cuts
Gateway also announced price cuts. The Gateway 300S with a 1.8GHz Celeron, 128MB of memory, a 40GB drive and a 15-inch LCD now costs $699 after rebates. Before, it cost $828. A similar system with a 1.8GHz Pentium 4 sells for $799, down from $928.

The Gateway Solo 1450 notebook, meanwhile, has dropped to $999. The system includes a 1.3GHz Celeron, a 14-inch screen, 256MB of memory, a 20GB drive and a DVD/CD-RW.

Since 2001, Gateway has been struggling to rebuild itself and often used low prices as a way to gain market share. While it lost money in the second quarter, the discounts are helping it close the gap by boosting unit shipments. The company will announce financial earnings for the third quarter on Oct. 17.