For Gateway, thin laptops are not in

These notebooks aren't ultrathin, but they're not pricey, either

While vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. are putting their latest laptops on crash diets, Gateway Inc. is boldly dismissing this as a fad.

Today, Gateway introduced a pair of consumer notebook PCs that are most notable for being neither ultrasmall, like netbooks, nor ultrathin, like most other notebook computers being launched at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

The more petite model, the UC with a 13.3-in. wide-screen LCD, weighs 5.3 lb. and is 1.5 in. thick. The MD, meanwhile, sports a 15.6-in. wide-screen display, weighs 7.7 lb. and measures 1.7 in. at its thickest point.

By contrast, HP on Tuesday announced a pair of new Pavilion consumer laptops, with the smaller one weighing 3.8 lb. and measuring 0.93 in. at its thinnest.

Lenovo Group Ltd.'s new flagship consumer laptop, the IdeaPad Y650, is an inch thick despite sporting a 16-in. wide-screen LCD and built-in JBL stereo speakers.

And Dell is expected to release an ultrathin laptop code-named "Adamo" at CES.

All of the vendors trail Apple Inc., which introduced its MacBook Air last year.

Gateway seems content to leave the thin and light categories to its parent company, Acer Inc. Propelled by its Aspire netbook, Acer now leads the global netbook market, according to research firm DisplaySearch.

Acer, which also owns Packard Bell, ranks second worldwide overall in laptops, with 17.1% of the market, according to DisplaySearch, just behind HP, which has 19.7%.

Gateway's latest laptops don't totally buck the latest trends. The best example is the UC's inclusion of a round track pad, rather than a conventional rectangular one.

A few laptops, including Intel Corp.'s Classmate PC, Panasonic's W5 and T5 Toughbooks and Packard Bell's Easynote, feature round track pads. Gateway says round track pads are better suited for how users move around Web sites and programs.

The UC also sports a glossy black plastic "moonstone" case as well as a keyboard overlay made of brushed black aluminum. The MD comes with a synthetic leather stripe accented with silver on top of customers' choice of burgundy or black plastic cases.

Internally, both laptops, which run the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system, come with Intel WiFi Link 5100 cards that provide 802.11 a/b/g and Draft-N connectivity. Both also sport the latest HDMI Connector v1.3 in order to connect to higher-resolution external monitors or TVs.

As physically bulky as they are, the new Gateway models are relatively light in one area: price. The UC, which uses Intel Core 2 Duo or Pentium Dual Core CPUs along with ATI Mobility Radeon 3470 graphics chips, start at $799. The MD, which comes with Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 or Turion X2 processors, starts at $699.

Gateway's MD series notebook PCs
Gateway's MD series notebook PCs come in burgundy or black plastic cases.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon