Review - Gateway 2000 Solo 2300

Overall Score:




$2,800+ (when new)

Vendor Support


User Support


Vendor Attitude


Vendor Net Savvy






Product Description

The Solo 2300 is a member of the Gateway 2000 laptop family.

The model I'm reviewing is a Pentium 133, with 32 MB of memory, a 2 GB hard drive, and a 12.1" active matrix display.

First Impressions

I was looking at Gateway 2000 for my laptop because of their good reputation, and because they own the Amiga technology.

I was disappointed to find out that it is impossible to buy this laptop without Windows '95; I primarily want a Unix system anyway, and I'm not happy with paying a tithe to a company whose products suck so badly.

When I ordered my laptop (Gateway 2000 is primarily a mail-order vendor), I wanted to get it as quickly as possible; at the time, the company was out of stock of the cheaper dual-scan displays, so I spent the extra $500 for an active matrix display. Overall, I think I like it better, although I don't believe I agree with the salesman's statement that the screen works at "any angle".

When my laptop showed up, I was unable to get the CD-ROM to work; I called support, they confirmed my findings, and a replacement was shipped. In the mean time, I loaded BSDI (over ethernet), and got started getting used to the box.

The replacement CD-ROM showed up within a couple of days (before my trip, which made me happy) and worked fine. This was pretty cool.

On the down side, it took a couple of weeks to get the battery working. It would have been a couple-day no-brainer, but there were confusions about how to test the battery I had, and one particularly unhelpful support guy (I believe he was the exception, not the rule) insisted that my problem was that they don't support Unix, and that the battery itself could not possibly be the problem. (It was.)

Product Features

Well, it's pretty much "a notebook". The display is 800x600, it has a 2GB hard drive, a Pentium, and all the normal stuff. You can look the specs up on the Gateway web page — they may change.

Design Wins

Design Losses

Vendor Attitude and Net Savvy

Gateway's low score in Net Savvy is solely a reflection of their horrible, confusing, unbookmarkable web page. It's all "Active Server Content", graphics, and weird context that isn't part of the URL, so you can't save your place. UGH! You can't even reliably try to "load images" in some parts of it, it's all silently subdivided, and you can't just browse around. This is a horrible loss, as it used to be fairly nice.

Apart from that, their competent e-mail support, the good availability of downloads (however hard they are to find), and their general quality of information is fairly good. I'm disappointed by the build-your-own PC section; some machines can be configured with no hard drive, and one or two without video cards, but I'd rather be able to configure any machine with any or all of these missing; likewise, they still stick you with Windows '95.

The phone attitude is, in general, great. I had one bad experience with a phone rep, and there was a bit of fumbling in my quest to get my battery replaced, but everything else has gone well, and the other support reps I've worked with have been great. The sales people are friendly, the support people are friendly, and they actually play real music sometimes when you're on hold.

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