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Gateway Preps PCs for CompUSA,Office Depot, Best Buy

Hoping to catapult the PC maker back into the retail game, Gateway Inc. on Thursday said two new desktop PCs will be available soon at hundreds of retail outlets.

The new desktops are the Gateway 500GR and the 550GR. Both feature Intel 915G chipsets, DVD burners, high capacity disk drives, and Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. Pricing begins at $849.99.

Earlier this week, Gateway said CompUSA will sell its PCs in the chain's 226 stores and that Office Depot's 867 stores would likewise offer the Gateway product line. Gateway had earlier announced that its products would be sold in Best Buy stores.

"We're a solid number three in PCs," said Lisa Emard, a Gateway spokeswoman. Gateway trails only Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard in the PC numbers game, she said.

Asked about cost-savings from the merger earlier this year with eMachines, the Gateway spokeswoman insisted there have been synergies.

"We were able to carry out a lot of cost-cutting," she said. "We are simplifying our supplier base." She noted that by increasing its volume purchases of components, Gateway has been able to become more efficient.

Although the new Gateway computers contain more-or-less standard features like 512MB of DDR memory, built-in 56K v.92 modem, 8-in-I media card reader and integrated 10/100 Ethernet, the 500GR and the 550GR deliver an enhanced home theater experience through large 200GB hard drives, Intel High Definition Audio, and a dedicated video card with PCI Express capability.

With the Gateway announcement this week, the firm's strategy is becoming more visible: eMachines products will continue to be sold primarily by retailers. At the same time, Gateway products will take their place on retailers' shelves, but also will be marketed over the Web, by phone, and through direct sales.

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