Gateway One ZX6961-UB20P
The Gateway One ZX6961-UB20P ($779.99 at Best Buy) is a middle-of-the-road touch-screen all-in-one desktop. It gives you much of what an entry-level touch-screen user might want in a PC, plus a relatively large screen and a decent amount of performance for its price. With its second-gen Intel Core i3 processor, 23-inch screen, and decent hard drive space, it’s fast and spacious. It gives up a couple of future-looking technologies (like USB 3.0 and eSATA) in return for its pricing, but many users will be happy with the system as is.
Design and Features
The ZX6961-UB20P continues Gateway’s current all-in-one desktop design strategy. Its glossy black chassis means it will likely fit just about anywhere in your house, short of a Victorian-themed room with elaborate arabesque wallpaper and chintzy furniture. The desktop is essentially the follow-up to Gateway’s previous large-screen all-in-one, the Gateway One ZX6951-53 ($999.99 list, 4 stars). The newer model’s exterior is virtually identical to the older model, with the same rounded front face. While the expanse of plastic below the screen on systems like the Viewsonic VPC221 ($959 list, 3 stars) looks like a “chin,” the rounded face actually slims the Gateway system a bit. One consequence of the rounded face is that you can’t store the wireless keyboard under the desktop: other more open-designed desktop like the HP TouchSmart 310-1125y ($699 list, 4.5 stars) and Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Thunderbolt) ($1,199 list, 4.5 stars) give you enough space below the screen to stow the keyboard (The HP 310-1125y has a shallow cubby for the keyboard, but the space underneath the iMac is deeper.)
The ZX6961-UB20P comes with a total of eight USB 2.0 ports and other older ports like PS/2 and VGA on the system, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding an open port for most peripherals. However, there aren’t any future-proofed ports, like USB 3.0, HDMI, or eSATA to be found. This is par for this price point, but it’s disappointing, since other desktops like the MSI Wind Top AE2050-008US ($679.99 list, 3.0 stars) at least give you a pair of USB 3.0 ports. All-in-one desktops like those from MSI and Toshiba give the user access to these high-speed ports. High-speed ports like USB 3.0 eSATA, and Thunderbolt will become more important as more and more videos, photos, and docs are transferred from one device to another using hard drives.
The ZX6961-UB20P is a mixed bag on the software front: The system’s Touch Portal is a touch-optimized skin on top of the operating system. You could use the Touch Portal interface much of the time if you primarily use the Web on your desktop. Touch Portal is in second tier of these touch apps; HP’s TouchSmart is the leader. Both touch apps allow you to browse the Web; view pictures and videos; and access some social information on an easy-to-view screen. HP’s TouchSmart simply has many more plug-ins and features like the included R.U.S.E. game and Hulu for online TV. Gateway’s is a little less developed, with pre-loaded Microsoft apps from the Touch Pack (like Blackboard and Surface Globe), but it’s still a good start and well polished. Some components are less than stellar, like the icon for the Cooliris plug in that simply points the user to Cooliris’ Website. Once you open up Cooliris in Internet Explorer, it works fine, but it’s not really compatible with the proprietary touch-optimized browser in Touch Portal. Other examples of unneeded pre-loaded software include Gateway Games, YouCam, and THX on the desktop. Rounding out the trialware is the copy of Norton Internet Security with a 60-day subscription. We think that 12 to 15 months is a more suitable starting subscription length. The system comes with Best Buy’s app, which allows you to shop for and buy programs online. I’m sure this lessened the bloatware on board, but we wish it had eliminated it. Maybe next time.
The system comes with a 1TB hard drive, which is plenty of storage for family users, and the system’s 4GB of memory is a decent amount for multitasking. The system comes with a utilitarian wireless mouse and keyboard combination: it’s nothing special, but you’ll appreciate the lack of cords. Internal expansion is non-existent, aside from swapping the existing drive and memory out for more (the system can handle up to 8GB of memory). The system has an internal power supply, which means that you won’t have to hide an external power brick under the desk. This is a good thing for many reasons, least of which is that there are less cords to lose or break.
Best Buy also has an extended warranty program, which offers customers an extra year of protection beyond the one-year warranty of most system manufacturers. There are two plans in this extended warranty program. The standard plan ($119.99) covers the system against normal wear and tear, power surge damage, and includes a “No Lemon” guarantee in which Best Buy will simply replace the computer if it requires more than four repairs during the coverage period. Best Buy’s advanced plan ($219.99) offers all this, and also covers the system against accidental damage from drops and spills. Other special offers can be found online or in stores, like discounts on printers, software, and tech support plans which are available with any new consumer PC purchased through Best Buy.
The ZX6961-UB20P was a good performer at the multimedia-oriented Handbrake video encode test, scoring 1 minute 40 seconds, and the Adobe Photoshop CS5 test (3:47). This is a smidge slower than the Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Thunderbolt) (1:25 on Handbrake; 3:29 on CS5), but then again the ZX6961-UB20P costs $415 less. Unless you do graphics work for a living, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in performance. The iMac does, however, show its mettle on 3D tests: the iMac is successfully able to play Crysis (70 frames per second) and Lost Planet 2 (32 fps) at suitable frame rates, but the ZX6961-UB20P’s integrated Intel HD 200 graphics are less than stellar (12 fps on Crysis, and it couldn’t run Lost Planet 2).
The ZX6961-UB20P is good at playing back online HD videos: 720p YouTube videos were smooth and 1080p YouTube videos were watchable (you’re unlikely to see too many missed frames unless you’re really looking at the screen critically). Unfortunately, the system lacks a Blu-ray drive, so we couldn’t test that.
Compared with the competition, the ZX6961-UB20P falls a little short of the Editor’s Choice for entry-level all-in-one desktops, the HP TouchSmart 310-1125y. True, the Gateway has a bit more multimedia power and a larger screen. But the HP 310-1125y has a better touch interface and a much less expensive price tag. The Apple iMac is significantly more expensive, but consequently comes with a boost in performance, particularly in 3D tasks. The ZX6961-UB20P, however is a better choice than the similarly-priced MSI Wind Top AE2050-008US because of its better performance and bigger screen.
The Gateway One ZX6961-UB20P is a good, if not extraordinary, touch-screen PC for those who want a little more power for their money. It’s a general-purpose, touch-screen all-in-one desktop PC that certainly will feel faster than the system you’re replacing, justifying its slightly higher price tag compared with rivals. Only a lack of future tech and some bloatware keep the system from competing with others in its category.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the Gateway One ZX6961-UB20P
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387706,00.asp