Gateway Laptops With Facebook Button: Convenience Or Gimmick? - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

Gateway Laptops With Facebook Button: Convenience Or Gimmick?

Acer-owned brand gives laptops one-touch access to social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Gateway ID47 Laptop
(click image for larger view)
Gateway ID47 Laptop
The social networking frenzy has affected manufacturers in an interesting way. For example, Acer is striving to grow the appeal of its Gateway laptops by integrating dedicated buttons for Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

The new Gateway NV and ID series laptops use the buttons to activate an integrated widget that allows users to update their status, post messages, upload multimedia, or see updates from friends' feeds. It's questionable how much time a dedicated button would save users that are entrenched in the world of social networking. However, recent research published by ComScore indicates that on average, users are now spending one of every six minutes of their online time on social networks. ComScore also revealed that in 2007, one out of every 12 minutes was spent on social networks, showing that time spent on social networks has doubled in the last four years.

Whether or not a social networking button will be an enticement for Acer's Gateway notebook buyers is yet to be seen. At best, it may make accessing social networks easier, at worst it may add to the clutter of buttons found on most laptops today. Nevertheless, the actual need for the button is doubtful--after all, several applications exist, such as Yoono or Zimbra Desktop, that allow easy access to social networking sites.

Acer seems to be bucking a trend by adding more buttons to laptop computers. Most other manufacturers, such as HP, Dell, and Lenovo, have been removing buttons from their business class laptops; gone are separate volume controls, multimedia buttons, and even separate wireless switches. Instead, most manufacturers now rely on shared function keys on the keyboard or software applications to control integrated devices and launch macros.

Acer is not the only manufacturer attempting gimmicks to attract social networking power users; many devices, especially smartphones and tablets, are incorporating some type of native integration with social networking sites as a method to attract consumers. However, in those cases the devices are aimed at the consumer and not the business market.

Nevertheless, the new notebooks from Acer incorporate several other features that may make them a fit for business use. Most of the new Gateway laptops feature Intel's latest Core processors and USB 3.0 ports for high-speed peripherals. The three new Gateway ID47 series laptops have an edge-to-edge 14-inch screen, which allows the laptops to use a 13.3-inch chassis. Weights start at 4.6 pounds (2.08 kilograms), offer up to eight hours of battery life, and are priced starting at $699. The laptops support 4 GB to 8 GB of memory and up to 750 GB of hard drive storage.

The two new Gateway NV series have 15.6-inch displays, with one model, the NV55S05U, based on AMD's new A8 quad-core processor. The NV55S05U, priced at $629.99, has up to 640 GB of storage, weighs 5.7 pounds, and offers four hours of battery life.

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