Remember Gateway? Not so long ago, it was Avis to Dell's Hertz in the direct PC sales market. But while Dell has managed to remain in the public eye, Gateway has receded after being acquired by Acer several years ago. It still releases desktops and laptops, but that's not exactly the cutting edge of computing these days.
Exhibit A is its latest product: the LT41P04u, a 10.1-inch laptop with a modest Intel Celeron processor and a $329.99 price tag. You'd be forgiven if you thought that sounded like a netbook, that small, cheap laptop category that swept the PC industry a few years ago. That is, until the first iPad was released.
One of the first casualties of the tablet revolution was the humble netbook, which promised convenient Internet access in a tiny package. Unfortunately, the iPad and subsequent tablets delivered much of the same thing -- in a more convenient, tinier package. Gateway dabbled in the Android tablet realm briefly, but wisely cut its losses in an extremely cutthroat market.
In an era of Ultrabooks and other ultra-thin, but decently spec'd and affordable laptops (not to mention convertible notebooks that can switch between tablet and laptop modes), the LT41P04u -- with its humble components (2GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, 1,366x768 screen resolution) -- seems a bit like a relic. Sure its display is touch-screen enabled, not surprising given that it runs Windows 8, and it weighs just 2.38 pounds. But there's a reason that pretty much the only similar systems are based on Google's Chromebook platform. (The Asus 1015E is a notable exception.)
To be fair, Chromebooks are starting to show signs of life after starting slowly out of the gate. Then again, they are not running a full version of Windows 8 with budget specs. Can the LT41P04u prove that the netbook concept is still viable in 2013 running Windows 8? Do you have any interest in a 10-inch budget laptop? Let us know in the Talkback section.