Product Reviews

Product Reviews

In Brief

All-in-one systems arenít for everyone. But if desktop space is limited, the Profile 4 is a great choice. It looks good and its six high-speed USB 2.0 ports give it outrageously great connectivity. A long menu of processor, memory, hard drive, and optical drive options let you have it your way. This all-in-one is perfect for the executive suite and for students.


Price

Starting prices are listed.
Profile 4SE, $999; Profile 4X, $1,499; Profile 4XL (tested), $1,999  ($2,159 as tested); systems can be custom configured with prices that vary considerably

Gateway
Poway, Calif.


Competition

Desktop PCs? You know who the major players are. Check out Acer, Apple, Dell, eMachines, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC, and Sony for starters.


Key Specs

Since you can custom build your Profile 4, configuration combinations are nearly infinite. Here is the exact configuration of our test system, a Profile 4XL:

417" LCD flat panel

42.8GHz Pentium 4

4512MB DDR memory

4120GB hard drive

4DVD/CD-RW combo

4Multifunction keyboard, corded optical USB mouse

432MB NVIDIA GeForce 2
MX 400 graphics

414.4" W x 16.2" H x 7.8" D

4Approx 21 lbs.


USB 2.0

Alas, thereís no label to tell you, but the Profile 4ís six USB ports are compatible with the new USB 2.0 standard. You should be thrilled. Lunched in mid-2001 USB 2.0 features a raw data rate that is a blazing 40 times faster than the older USB 1.1 standard.

How do you tell if the USB device youíre plugging in is compatible with Hi-Speed USB 2.0? Easy, look for this logo on the box:

To learn more about USB 2.0, visit the official USB site.

 

USB Reviews

Reference Guide is your authority when it comes to testing USB products. Read these current product reviews:

ē Epson C80 inkjet printer

ē Belkin USB 2.0 upgrade kit

ē Corex CardScan 600c business card scanner

ē U.are.U fingerprint PC security device

ē Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo label printer

ē Logitech Freedom Cordless Keyboard & mouse

ē Mimio whiteboard recorder

ē Plextor 40/12/40 USB 2.0 CD-RW Drive

ē Y-E Data 6-in-1 memory card reader

ē Keyspan USB 1.1 mini-hub

 


computer systems

Gateway Profile 4 PC


Rating:

By Joel Shore

October 7, 2002

 

The easy story is that Gateway, losing market share and deep in the red, had to do something drastic to yank the spotlight away from Dell and Apple. Well, they did.

But thereís a much better story: the Profile 4 is a darn good computer that looks super-sleek and feels good to use. Perfect itís not, but itís a great choice for your home, home office, or dorm room. And corporations too: This ultra-stylish powerhouse will look great in any executive suite.

The Profile 4 is an ďall-in-one.Ē That means the computer and the display monitor are wedded into a single unit. Over the years, all-in-ones have gotten a bad rap, sometimes with good reason. In many cases, either the computer portion or the display portion became woefully obsolete, leaving owners with no upgrade path and little to show for their investment. Will that be the case here? Only time will tell.

A second strike facing all-in-ones is the out-of-service problem. When the PC portion breaks down, youíve got a useless monitor. And when the monitor goes belly up, youíve got a computer that canít show you what itís doing.

  

Rear panel view. The mouse and keyboard plug into the round ports on the left; modem port is just above. Ethernet port is at bottom right with four USB 2.0 ports to its left. Power connection is at top right.

Wisely, Gateway has addressed this latter potential pitfall. The back panel of the Profile 4 features a VGA port. Thatís important, because it means you can hook up any external monitor if the Profile 4ís flat-panel display takes a divot from an errant golf-club swing in the CEOís office. So, youíll still be in business. It wonít be pretty, but itíll certainly work. And, of course, just as you can with your laptop PC, you can connect a video projector to the VGA port for displaying things like PowerPoint presentations to a large audience.

Two USB 2.0 ports, two Fire-Wire ports, and a PC Card slot are conveniently located on the Profile 4ís right side.

The final mark against all-in-ones is expandability. There arenít any empty slots for adding a high-end audio card or a super-duper video accelerator card. And there are no drive bays for a second hard drive or ZIP drive. If that matters to you, look elsewhere, but the fact is the vast majority of PC owners never add to their systems. No one will say it, so we will: Lack of expandability is not the showstopper that some doomsday pundits make it out to be.

Three models, many options. You can get a Profile 4 for as little as $999. As recently as 2000, youíd pay more than that just for a 15-inch flat-panel display! Our system, when we configured it on the Gateway Web site, weighed in at a hefty $2,199. Youíll want to wind up somewhere in between. Letís examine the three Profile models, the 4SE, 4X, and 4XL.

Remember, these are standard configurations, which you can radically change by visiting the Gateway Web site. All Profile 4 models rely on a pair of small built-in speakers. If you want a subwoofer, youíll have to purchase a set of add-on external speakers; thereís no way to add just a subwoofer. Furthermore, all Profile 4 models include a 10/100 Ethernet port and a modem. Thereís also one PC Card slot.

  • Profile 4SE. At $999 this model is outfitted with a 1.7GHz Intel Celeron processor, enough horsepower for all but intense gamers, graphics artists, and engineers. Its 128 Mbytes of SDRAM and 20-Gbyte hard drive just wonít cut it, though. Windows wonít be truly happy unless it has a minimum of 256 Mbytes of memory; 512 Mbytes is even better. And itís likely youíll fill up the hard drive in less than a year. The 15-inch LCD monitor is quite a bit smaller than the 17-inch panels on the other models.
    Our advice: If this is the only model you can afford, get it. Cough up $80 to double memory to 256 Mbytes. And spend another $50 to get a 40-Gbyte hard drive. If you want to create (burn) your own CDs, toss in another $80. Ok, youíre now up to $1,209, but youíve built a very good all-in-one system.

  • Profile 4X. This $1,499 mid-range model moves up to a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 256 Mbytes of SDRAM memory, a 40-Gbyte hard drive, 17-inch LCD monitor, and a CD-RW drive.
    Our advice: This model is a terrific compromise. You get adequate memory and disk space, and the superb larger 15-inch display. For another $60, we strongly recommend that you step up to the 80-Gbyte hard drive.

  • Profile 4XL. Top of the line system includes a standard 2.66GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor (2.8GHz available as an option), 512 Mbytes of SDRAM, 120-Gbyte hard drive, CD-RW/DVD combo drive, and 17-inch display.
    Our advice: We really like this system. All-in-ones do not get better than this. However, before you spend $2,000 for a PC, be sure to also consider a standard tower configuration with its myriad internal expansion capabilities. That will allow you to add options like a high-end audio card with MIDI ports, powerful graphics card, a second hard drive, and so on. If expansion isnít a big dealóand for many it isnít, youíll find this model is as powerful as anything else on the market.

6

Internal expansion options are nil, but that may
be ok: Most PC owners never open
their
desktop
system

5

Easy set-up. You wonít do anything today thatís much easier than setting up a Profile 4. Plug in the keyboard. Plug in the mouse. Connect the power cord (more about that in a moment) and youíre done! Since the PC and monitor are one, you donít have a video cable and power cord from the monitor to worry about. And the speakers are built in.

Now about that main power cord. To keep the Profile 4 small, Gateway moved the power supply and associated circuitry out of the computer and into a separate a.c. adapter. Itís just like the power adapter on your laptop computer, except this one is is about the size and weight of a brick. But who cares? Tuck it behind your desk, out of sight where it belongs, and then forget about it.

Expansion yes. In some ways, eight exactly, the Profile 4 is king when it comes to expansion. The unit has two IEEE 1384 (FireWire) ports and an astonishing six USB ports. Even better, these are Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports, that are a whopping 40 times faster than older USB 1.1 ports. With the FireWire ports you can hook up your digital video camcorder and all those other gizmos that havenít been invented yet. Those 6 USB ports are great for hooking up printers, a business-card scanner, external disk storage, a keychain USB disk drive, a ZIP drive, a scanner, and dozens of other devices sporting a USB interface. Youíll have lots of USB wires snaking up to the otherwise sleek Profile 4, but in the overall scheme of things, thatís really not so bad. We are truly impressed by the number of input/output options.

Expansion no. Yet all is not perfect. The Profile 4ís sleek appearance comes at a price we previously mentioned: like just about every all-in-one computer available today, thereís no place for adding audio or video cards, an additional hard drive, or an internal ZIP drive or tape drive. If thatís a problem for you, then an all-in-one is not the answer to your prayers. Shop for a standard desktop tower instead.

Gatewayís Profile 4 all-in-one PC is elegant enough for the boardroom and tough enough for the boiler room. With its Kensington security socket, you can connect a security cable, making the Profile 4 also a great dorm-room choice that wonít be easily stolen. We just might put one in the kitchen, too.<

 
Yeas & Nays

Yea:

4Sleek design, looks great, saves space

46 high-speed USB 2.0 ports

42 FireWire ports

4Bright display

4VGA port to connect external monitor

4Did we say it looks great?

Nay:

4Display may outlast PC, or PC may outlast display

4No internal expansion

4So-so speakers


Profile In Courage?

Gateway is aggressively positioning the Profile 4 as a better choice than an Apple iMac. No doubt you saw the TV commercials that ran throughout Sept. 2002. The company even hired an independent lab to compare the two. Guess which won? You can read the final report from eTesting Labs, but remember, it was commissioned and paid for by Gateway. So far, Apple hasnít responded.


DVD Writer?

When we wrote this review, a DVD burner was not available for the Profile 4, but thatís likely to change. According to Gateway, the company plans to offer a DVD burner at some point, but specifics arenít yet available.


In the Box

Package contents: system, keyboard, mouse, power adapter with cords, Windows software, driver and applications discs, getting started sheet, user manual.

Features

4Processor:
Intel Pentium 4;
2.0GHz to 2.80GHz or 1.70GHz Intel Celeron

4RAM: 128MB to 1024MB of DDR SDRAM, expandable to 2048MB

4Hard drive:
20GB to 120GB

4Optical drive:
CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, CD-RW or combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive

4Audio:
Integrated stereo speakers

4Video:
Integrated 32MB NVIDIA GeForce 2
MX 400 graphics

4Additional functions:

Microphone, head-
phone jacks on front;

One PCMCIA Type II slot, two USB 2.0 ports, two IEEE 1394 (Fire-Wire) ports on side panel;

Four USB 2.0 ports, one parallel, one serial, VGA out, DC-in and two PS/2 ports on rear panel

   

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