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