When the folks at Gateway designed the E-2600S, I don't think they had a specific person in mind -- I'm pretty sure they had everyone in mind.

The result is a highly versatile machine made to adapt to any office space.

The E-2600S comes with the Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition and an Intel Pentium 4 Processor 531, with 3 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 1 MB L2 cache.

I kept my machine flat on my desk and under my monitor, and in this configuration, it measures a mere 4.1 inches tall, 16.4 inches wide and 14.4 inches deep.

Others may choose to keep theirs under their desks, and/or standing up. I must admit, being the fundamental skeptic I am, I thought the latter option simply would not work for me. As an avid music listener, I frequently use the CD player, and the standing position obliges the slot to be at a vertical angle. Unless Gateway found a way to defy gravity, I thought, a CD would slide right down from the open slot at that angle. Not so. Four tiny hooks keep the CD firmly in place, making it easy to insert and eject it.

I also enjoyed the E-2600S's customizable aspect. A CIO once told me that when it came to equipping an office with hardware and software, not everyone needs every bell and whistle all the time. With this machine, users can customize their options to suit their work needs.

For instance, the front of the machine can sport two optional USB ports and/or two IEEE 1394/FireWire/i.Link ports. The test unit came with the USB ports option, which was perfect for me, since I have no use for firewire ports. The USB ports, on the other hand, made it very easy for me to plug in a flash drive, copy files and take work home. The machine also comes standard with four USB 2.0 ports at the rear.

Other options include audio in/side speakers, center subwoofer and rear speaker jacks, which can complement the standard Integrated High Definition Audio -- Realtek ALC655 or the optional ALC861 -- a nice touch for audio presentations ... or the occasional office party.

Another nice detail is the E-2600S is Energy Star compliant, which can lead to potential savings in these days of pricey energy. The unit starts at $599, which includes a three-year warranty -- this machine can easily find a spot in a tight budget.

One problem I experienced -- and it could be related to my particular machine -- was that the E-2600S's fan was very loud, sometimes making it difficult to hear what went on a few feet away from me. The problem solved itself when I restarted the machine, and only came back periodically.

That was my only bone to pick with the E-2600S, which was otherwise a very functional machine that kept up with my customary 10 to 15 open windows and applications.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Specifications:

  • 1 GB DDR2 PC4200 533MHz SDRAM (2-DIMM)

  • 160 GB Serial ATA150 7200 rpm hard drive with 8 MB cache

  • Integrated ultra ATA100 and serial ATA150 controllers

  • 16x Double-Layer Multiformat DVD
    Corine Stofle  |  Staff Writer