Gateway will kill three birds with one notebook later this month when it delivers the Solo 5150 machine. A refresh of its Solo 5100 the machine adds a new 14.1-inch thin-film transistor display and a modular drive bay that supports an optional low-cost DVD (digital versatile disk).
A DVD, which stores up to 4.7GB of data per side, can be used for data storage or for applications such as videos. For the business user, Gateway will emphasise the DVD's storage capacity, which equals up to 14 CDs at 650MB each. "We'll be talking about it from an investment protection standpoint," said Bob Moore, senior product marketing manager for mobile systems at Gateway. "We're hoping people will consider it a 7GB CD-ROM." The Solo 5150 will also be free of a video bug that affects the Solo 5100, according to company officials. It will come in three models, ranging in price from $2,299 (£1,400) to $3,299 (£2,011).
The Solo 5150SE will feature a 233MHz Pentium II, a 14.1-inch display, 32MB of RAM, a 2GB hard drive and a 20-speed CD-ROM drive for $2,299. The midrange 5150LS, priced at $2,699 (£1,645), will add 48MB of RAM, a 4GB hard drive and a 56K-bps modem. The Solo 5150XL, priced from $3,299, will offer a 266MHz Pentium II, 80MB of RAM, a 6.4GB hard drive and two lithium-ion batteries. The notebook's modular drive bay supports DVD and LS120 drives, a 120MB floppy disk drive, or a second hard drive.
A two-speed DVD-ROM drive will be available as a $250 (£152) option. That makes the Solo 5150SE about $2,000 (£1,219) less than the nearest DVD-equipped notebook, Toshiba's Tecra 8000, which costs $4,319 (£2,633) when configured with a 14.1-inch screen. The notebooks will be available by month's end, and as a result Gateway will phase out the Solo 5100.
The Solo 5150 eliminates a problem with the 5100 models: fuzzy video images that occurred when the notebook was used with a Gateway docking station and an external monitor, officials said.
To address the Solo 5100's video problem, Gateway replaced the graphics controller in the Solo 5150 with NeoMagic's NMG5, which offers a 24-bit colour graphics controller. The problem, which was previously thought to affect a wide range of Gateway notebooks going back to the company's Solo 2100, was found to affect only Solo 5100 models, Gateway officials said.
Gateway also updated the 5100 notebook's BIOS, which now supports Desktop Management Interface 2.0 and Intel's LANDesk software