Gateway Profile 4 PC
By Joel Shore
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Internal expansion options are
nil, but that may
be ok: Most PC owners never open
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
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.<