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On Gateway One ZX6980 Windows 8 desktop, not all controls are equal

Consumer Reports News: October 24, 2012 05:08 PM

The Gateway One ZX6980 is an all-in-one desktop with both a touchscreen and gesture controls. So along with the keyboard and mouse, that gives you four ways to interact with your computer, which is just what the doctor ordered for the optimal Windows 8 experience. Unfortunately, the gesture control on a pre-retail model had a few bugs that will hopefully be worked out before Windows 8 computers start shipping later this week.

The ZX6980 I tried out came with an Intel Pentium processor, which helps keep the price at a reasonable $750. It also includes 6GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive, and has two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports, as well as a memory-card reader, HDMI, and a DVD drive.

Hand controls. This Gateway all-in-one uses hand-gesture software from PointGrab. Although a tutorial is included to help you learn the gestures, it took me quite a bit of practice to actually get them to work.

For example, swiping your hand left to right, according to the tutorial, is supposed to minimize all the tiles on the Start desktop. But although I tried several times, I was unable to get that to happen.

In addition, hand controls are particularly useful when you're sitting at a distance from the computer, watching a movie for example. Gestures for doing things like turning the volume up and down, or for Pause and Play controls, were not on this particular desktop. But PointGrab says they will be available on other models.

Display. The 23-inch display has 1920x1080 resolution. It's also a touchscreen that seemed accurate and responsive. The picture was decent, and I was able to watch and enjoy streaming video on it.

The display tilts as much as 20 degrees, so you can more easily find the best viewing angle. The sound from the speakers was OK for casual listening, considering there were just two stereo speakers and no subwoofer. The sound didn't get very loud, however, and it lacked any bass.

Keyboard. The keyboard that shipped with this model was a bit clacky, for my taste. I also prefer dedicated keys for volume control, but this one used function keys that required pressing two keys at once.

The keyboard does have a function key for putting the computer into sleep mode and a dedicated key for calling up context-sensitive menus, which change depending on what you're doing. Another function key brings you to the Windows 8 search menu, so you can easily get to apps, settings, and files.

Bottom line. The ZX6980 seems like a decent computer for the family room. The touchscreen lets you take full advantage of Windows 8, but the hand-gesture software felt like a waste of energy.

Performance on other computers using similar processors has been only fair, fast enough for using productivity applications like a word processor or Web browsing, but slow for photo editing and demanding gaming. We'll do our full tests on the ZX6980 for a future batch of desktop computer Ratings.

Windows 8 brings tablet features to PCs, but it's not for everybody

Donna L. Tapellini

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