Gateway One ZX Series Review

Gateway One ZX Series

“As an all-in-one PC, the One ZX hits a home run with an attractive design, potent hardware and a price that's downright reasonable.”
  • Attractive acrylic-trimmed, LED-lit body
  • Gorgeous 23-inch capacitive touch screen
  • Fun suite of pre-installed touch applications and toys
  • Superb desktop and gaming performance
  • Excellent sound for size
  • Competitive pricing
  • Laughably cheap mouse and keyboard
  • Fan noise can become annoying
  • Touch remains a novelty
MSRP $1.00

Gateway One ZX Series Review

Check out our video on the Gateway One ZX Series.

Introduction

Windows 7 has arrived – and brought with it a slew of all-in-one computers riding on its bevvy of new touch-savvy features. Gateway’s One ZX Series offers a 20-inch screen coupled with modest-but-capable hardware starting from $720, or a more spacious 23-inch screen driven by hardware that wouldn’t look out of place on a gaming machine, for $1400, along with several options in between.

Specs

Our top-of-the-line Gateway One ZX6810-01 came equipped with an Intel Core 2 Quad processor clocked at 2.33GHz, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB hard drive, ATI Radeon 4670 graphics card, and 1TB hard drive, all under a 23-inch full HD touch screen. The system also includes an integrated Hybrid TV Tuner, HD webcam, 802.11b/g/Draft-n Wi-Fi, and 5.1-channel audio support.

Gateway One ZX Series ReviewDesign

Gateway doesn’t always impress with fit and finish, but the One ZX felt ready for the living room the moment we removed it from the box. The gloss-black monitor bezel gets a thin surrounding stripe of acrylic trim that widens and forms stubby feet at the bottom to give it some rise off the desk. It’s made even classier by a discreet little lighting button cycles on hidden white LEDs to illuminate the front speaker grille, legs, both or none in the dark. Budget or not, the One ZX exudes style.

That is, of course, until you get to the peripherals. The flimsy keyboard and mouse included feel like Stryofoam props meant to be smashed over a pro wrestler’s head in a staged fight. They’re laughably cheap. Our first order of business would be replacing them with something adequately stylish like Logitech’s Illuminated Keyboard, which matches the build of the rest of the machine much more closely.

Ports and Connections

Like most all-in-ones, the One ZX uses a slot-loading optical drive, this one conveniently located on the right (and unlike some other all-in-ones, you don’t have to expect the disc to plop out onto the desk when you eject it). You’ll also find headphone and microphone jack, the aforementioned light switch, and an SD card slot. Around the other side, the One ZX offers dual USB slots for conveniently connecting thumb drives, MP3 players and other frequently disconnected accessories. Four more USB ports around back make room for even more, along with four additional analog audio jacks for 5.1 surround, and an Ethernet jack. Gateway also has some interesting extras hanging out gateway-one-zx-e7out back there: a coaxial jack for a TV tuner antenna, a high-speed eSATA port for external hard drive and other accessories, and an IR Blaster port. All-told, there’s nothing overtly missing from this well-equipped all-in-one, but we should note that like any box in its class, your options for expansion are quite limited

Accessories

Besides the aforementioned Playskool mouse and keyboard, Gateway throws in a variety of accessories meant to work with Windows 7 Media Center, including a cheap but useable remote, a cable to convert the mini coaxial connector on the back to standard size, and a miniature pair of bunny ears for sticking up somewhere around the computer (a suction cup and adhesive pad are both included for mounting).

Sound

Desktop speakers add significant bulk and wiring mess to any desk, which is why we’re happy to report you won’t need them with Gateway’s One ZX. The forward-firing speaker bar below the monitor delivers sound right on par with a pair of modest standalone speakers right up until about 80 percent of its volume, where treble because harsh bass begins to bend. It’s more than enough for YouTube videos, engrossing PC gaming, and casual music listening, provided you don’t plan on any headbanging.

Display

Although the bezel and surrounding frills look sharp, the One ZX definitely musters most of its magic from the 23-inch screen in the center of it all. It stacks right up with finer standalone LCD models for image quality, offer relatively accurate color, balanced contrast and sharp image quality right out of the box. Besides offering full 1080p HD resolution, the entire screen has been endowed with capacitive multitouch technology – the same tech Gateway One ZX Series Reviewthat gives phones like the iPhone and Palm Pre their characteristically responsive touch capabilities. We found it offered pinpoint accuracy, and perhaps even more importantly for a computer that will likely sit somewhere public, resisted fingerprints well. However, dragging motions required a light tough to keep fingers from screeching across the screen as they dragged – it doesn’t quite match the iPhone’s glass skating rink of a screen for slickness.

Software

Windows 7 makes it possible to fire up the PC, turn on some music and even browse without so much as budging a mouse, but some of the coolest touch applications come preinstalled by Gateway. Touching the circular arrow button on the lower right of the screen bezel pulls up a customized touch-centric desktop, scattered with games, photo browsing applications, and other novelties. We loved Blackboard – a touch-sensitive take on The Incredible Machine – and Microsoft’s Surface Lagoon, which creates mesmerizing ripples in a virtual pond as you drag your fingers across the screen.

Ultimately, though, touch capabilities don’t really add up to anything more than a carnival of novelties – cool tricks you’ll show off to friend when they drop by then quickly revert to the mouse and keyboard when you actually need to get something done. There’s nothing here you’ll really miss on an ordinary PC, and many of the games could ultimately be just as fun with a mouse. Amazonia, a ripoff off PopCap’s Bejeweled, was actually fatiguing to play for very long using the touch screen – the mouse felt like a welcome relief after 10 minutes swapping jewels with our arms held high. For kids, we suspect the fun and intuitive nature of touch a screen to play games will hold more lasting appeal than for adults, but we have to guess that most youngsters would have even more trouble reaching the screen for long time periods.

Gateway One ZX Series ReviewAlthough full versions of CyberLink YouCam and PowerCinema both come preinstalled, we should note that many applications, including Microsoft Office, many games from Oberon Media, and the dreaded Norton Internet Security all come as free trials.

Performance

With a Core 2 Duo quad clocked at 2.33GHz, 8GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon 4670 screaming away inside, the Gateway had no issues sweeping away just about every performance test we put in front of it. Desktop performance felt absolutely fluid, and gaming performance actually took us off guard. Even at full 1920 x 1080 resolution, Crysis played like a dream, never so much as chattering during an action sequence until we ramped up settings to high, which ended the party. Most people won’t buy an all-in-one PC for gaming, but it’s always nice to know the performance is there, and frames per second during a fragfest translate to excellent video playback, editing and desktop performance, too.

A 3DMark05 score of 12,822 3DMarks put this machine quite high for an all-in-one, just edging out last year’s game-centric HP Firebird in the same benchmark.

Unfortunately, packing so much performance into a small package has its own unforeseen drawbacks. A tight little case doesn’t breathe as well as the big guys. Our One ZX liked to step the fan up and down all the time, which can get especially annoying in a quiet room where you don’t have enough white noise to silence the asthma attacks. The fan noise didn’t even seem too intrusive when it was on – the incessant switching on and off every 30 seconds just became maddening.

Conclusion

As an all-in-one PC, the One ZX hits a home run with an attractive design, potent hardware and a price that’s downright reasonable. For any given hardware configuration, it prices out cheaper than HP’s competing TouchSmart, making it a sound value, even if you have to add your own keyboard and mouse to make it as presentable. That said, we have to admit that its fanciful touch capabilities still yearn for applications that will put them to good use – but that’s the case with this class of hardware as a whole, more than any particular example of it. We urge would-be buyers to put some serious rumination into what they want a touch screen for (and maybe to do some shoulder presses at the gym, if you’re truly planning to toss the mouse and keyboard).

Highs:

  • Attractive acrylic-trimmed, LED-lit body
  • Gorgeous 23-inch capacitive touch screen
  • Fun suite of pre-installed touch applications and toys
  • Superb desktop and gaming performance
  • Excellent sound for size
  • Competitive pricing

Lows:

  • Laughably cheap mouse and keyboard
  • Fan noise can become annoying
  • Touch remains a novelty

Editors' Recommendations