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Some people are put off by the idea of buying a PC from a supermarket. They may wonder where the technical expertise is to support them and also whether the supermarket hasn't bought a job lot of hard-to-sell PCs. ‘Specials’ – such as Gateway’s GT5074b – are often for sale through just one outlet; in this case, Tesco.
Special models also tend to be on offer for a limited period, making them quite problematic to review. For instance, this machine will only be available till the end of July 2007. With such a short shelf-life, it’s almost discontinued by the time the review has gone live. To get around this, we're going to try and issue a brief update when the system is ‘refreshed’, indicating the differences between the new machine and the one reviewed here.
At first glance this is a fairly typical midi-tower system styled in two tones of titanium grey. However, look a bit closer and you notice a 15-way card reader with twin USB2.0 sockets at the top and a slide-down shutter located below the 16-speed DVD rewriter.
Open the shutter to reveal not only audio, video and FireWire sockets but also a Gateway portable media drive bay. This is a growing trend among desktop PCs, enabling a secondary hard drive to be removed easily – ideal for moving between two PCs or simply to secure safely when the PC isn't in use. There's no drive supplied here, but Gateway US prices them at $149 for 120GB and is apparently negotiating with Tesco to sell them for around £80 over here.
At the back are all the sockets you’d expect to see except serial and parallel ports. The Gateway site quotes one of each but neither is actually fitted, leaving few options for legacy peripherals. There's a second FireWire port and six more USB2.0 sockets, though three of these are used to support the Gateway mouse, the wireless Media Centre remote control receiver and to power the speakers.
The keyboard and mouse are both cabled so no need to worry about batteries. The keyboard itself has both a gentle action and a good set of extra function keys for multimedia control, cut-and-paste and folder navigation. The pair of small speakers is sufficient for Windows noises but will need to be supplemented if you use the PC’s DVD or TV facilities regularly. To see the peripherals head over here.