Hands on Gateway Solo
A few years back I reviewed a notebook PC that was literally about the size of a familiar paper notebook. Of course, that notebook ran a very limited version of Windows CE, with very limited versions of programs like Word, Outlook Express and Excel. Furthermore, that notebook had no floppy and no CD drive, so it was completely dependent on a linkup with a desktop to import or export data or programs. I remembered thinking: “Well, you can’t have everything. We can’t expect something to be portable AND robust.” My, how things change.
The Gateway Solo 3350 is, in a word, tiny. But don’t judge this slim unit by its size. At 3.65 lbs. and just 1” thick, this lightweight notebook would easily fit in anyone’s backpack or briefcase. Along with being very portable, the Solo 3350 is very useable. Unlike the small notebook of a few years back, this one uses Windows 2000 Professional and can run the same programs that its bulkier brothers can. It is a fully functional laptop with a 10 GB hard drive, an Intel Pentium III 600 MHz processor and a whopping 128 MB of SDRAM. That’s quite a lot of functionality enclosed in a small package.
The notebook has a 12.1” TFT Active Matrix XGA color display with 1024 x 768 resolution. It also features an integrated 56K modem and integrated 10/100 Ethernet. How can all of this be crammed into a 1”-thick laptop? Well, part of the answer is the fact that the unit d'es not carry an inboard floppy or CD-ROM drive. It d'es come with a very easy-to-use external floppy drive, and users can purchase external CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives for $99 and $199, respectively.
Overall, we found the Solo 3350 to be an incredibly handy little PC that literally g'es anywhere. It has a very sleek design and comes in a nice, high-tech-looking metallic blue. Our use of it was very glitch-free. In many ways it ran smoother and faster than other, bigger laptops we’ve encountered. As with many notebooks, the mouse touch pad can be over-sensitive and kind of tricky at times, but that pretty much g'es with the territory. The only real downside is the fact that you have to deal with external floppy and CD-ROM drives, but that’s a pretty minor annoyance when weighed against the unit’s portability. For years we’ve talked about computers becoming a ubiquitous classroom tool. With a unit of this size and usability, educators and students alike will find this concept to be much closer to reality.
North Sioux City, SD
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.