Gateway Aims Home Desktop at Multimedia Niche

Gateway Inc. Thursday launched quad-core desktop and notebook computers loaded with entertainment features designed to appeal to multimedia enthusiasts.

The announcements come ahead of the U.S. holiday shopping season, which begins in November.

The GT5628 desktop includes Intel Corp.'s quad-core processor and Viiv technology, a software-and-hardware combination aimed at users who want to view and manage multimedia entertainment on PCs.

The system runs the Vista Home Premium OS and includes Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor, the G33 Viiv chipset, Nvidia Corp.'s GeForce 8500 GT graphics processor, 3G bytes of RAM, a 500G-byte hard drive, a 15-in-1 digital media card reader, a DVD-RW drive and DVI (Digital Visual Interface) and S-video multimedia ports.

The PC will cost US$949.99 and does not include a monitor. Prices for other new GT series desktops start at $529.99, Gateway said in a statement.

Though desktops are generally dwindling in popularity as laptops remain the hot category, they are re-emerging as home entertainment and information centers, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc. As more people adopt high-definition content and upcoming wireless video transfer technologies, the desktop could redefine itself, he said.

Microsoft Corp. is emphasizing the role of the PC as entertainment and information center with its Windows Media Center OS, and has been encouraging partners such as Gateway to push the concept, Bajarin said.

Windows Vista has Windows Media Center OS functionality built in, Bajarin said.

Gateway also announced two desktop-replacements notebooks Thursday, targeted at multimedia enthusiasts and gamers.

A $799 P-6301 Notebook PC, which runs the Windows Vista Home Premium OS, comes with Intel's Pentium Dual Core Processor T2310, 1G byte of RAM, a 17-inch widescreen, a 5-in-1 memory card reader and 802.11g wireless networking.

A $949.99 P-6822 Notebook PC, which runs the Windows Vista Home Premium OS, comes with Intel's Centrino Duo Mobile processor, a 17-inch widescreen. a 250-G byte hard drive, 1G byte of memory, a dual-layer DVD-RW drive, wireless a/b/g networking and a 1.3-megapixel webcam. It will be available at U.S. retailers next week.

Both laptops weigh 8.34 pounds and become available at U.S. retailers next week.

Taiwanese company Acer Inc. in late August announced a plan to acquire Gateway Inc. for $710 million. On Thursday, Acer Inc. bought over 90 percent of Gateway's outstanding shares, coming close to completing the deal.