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Review:    Gateway 500SE: Desktop PC Review 

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We took a test drive of the Gateway 500SE, a desktop PC from Gateway's 500 series. The 500 series is a step up from the value PCs in the Celeron-based 300 series, but the 500SE is nonetheless a good value for families

Computers are such a big part of many families' homes, it just makes sense that they should look good. And, the 500 SE looks great. The system sports an attractive, silver and black new look--something owners can be proud of. 

The 500SE's new look is not merely cosmetic, however: the mid-tower case features a lift-up panel that neatly hides the USB ports, and the overall design makes everything easy to access. Matching up the cables and ports is a breeze with the system's clever color-coding. In fact, the entire system was exceptionally easy to set up (it took us about 15 minutes). 

The system comes loaded with Windows XP Home Edition and Microsoft Works Suite 2002 (which includes 6 products: Word; Works; Money 2002; Picture It! Photo; Streets & Trips; as well as the standard edition of Microsoft's encyclopedia, Encarta). This latter package is ideal for families looking to create documents, balance their budgets, create spreadsheets, do research and write reports, edit their photos, and plan their next vacation. Our system came with a (limited time only) bonus copy of the popular software, The Sims

The recordable, rewritable CDRW drive (24X/10X/40X) will be appreciated by families looking to "burn" CDs at a relatively fast speed. 

Although the processor, Pentium 4 1.8 GHz, is quite adequate, the memory and hard drive leave a little to be desired, given that many of the most popular computer tasks nowadays require a fair amount of hard drive space (such as storing music files, images, video, and even software games). 

The system comes with either a one-year subscription to AOL or six months of MSN Internet Access, free for new members, and a one-year limited warranty.

Software add-ons, for Gateway customers only, are available. We looked at KidBuilder 2002 Grades 5-8 Bundle and KidBuilder 2002 Grades 1-4 Bundle. Each package comes with four educational and edutainment children's software titles, and each sells for $59 US. Unlike many bundles, the software titles in these collections are mostly the latest editions. Other bundles are available from Gateway--customers may want to browse through the selections to decide whether they want to include a bundle or two with their system.

The 500 SE is a pre-configured system that will get to your door fast, but customers can easily customize the system to better suit their needs. Those looking for double the memory and hard drive can opt for the 500 SE Special for $130 more. 

Summary

Exceptionally easy to set up and use, and loaded with family software essentials, the 500 SE is an affordable, family-friendly desktop PC. Families expecting heavy usage might consider opting for the 500 SE Special, which doubles both the memory and hard drive. Recommended.

System Specs:

Processor: Intel Pentium 4, 1.8 GHz 
Memory: 128 MB DDR SDRAM

Hard Drive: 20 GB Ultra ATA100
Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44 MB diskette drive
CD-RW Drive, 24x/10x/40x
6 USB ports (2 in front, 4 in back)
56K VoiceModem
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet Card
EV700 17" Monitor
Video: Intel Extreme Graphics
Mouse: Logitech USB Optical Wheel Mouse

Looking to buy this system? Go to Gateway's web site and keep your eye out for specials and promotions. Be sure to check out their customer-only software bundles (they are good value for the price). See the product detail page for the Gateway 500SE.

 

 

 

 

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August 2002
 


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