While I’ll always be a little bitter about Gateway leaving South Dakota, they have one feature of their Web site which I adore: serial number lookup.
Somewhere on the case of your Gateway machine is a sticker with a 10-digit serial number. It starts “00.” You can input this at Gateway’s support site and get scads of information on your specific machine. No, not just your model — but your single, specific machine.
There are a lot of support documents and upgrade options, but the really nice thing is the list of the exact equipment your machine was built with.
Here’s a screencap of part of the list and a specification sheet for a three-year-old machine in my office. I needed new memory for this machine so I stuck in the serial number and got this list. I hit the “Find Upgrades” link next to “Memory,” but they didn’t have any in stock. No problem — I have the exact memory specs right there (which is 90% of the battle when buying memory.)
I went to Crucial, but I needed to know if the memory was ECC or Non-ECC. No problem, I just hit the “Support Docs” link and the sheet for that single, specific part popped up (inset image) with the exact information I needed.
No more crawling around on the floor trying to read part numbers off cards so you can Google them and hopefully find a driver. This interface tells you exactly what part it is, and they usually have driver downloads right from the parts list.
There’s more than the list. There are driver updates for any parts in the machine, there’s information on your warranty, there’s a link to the User Guide it shipped with, and there’s an ActiveX-enabled system whereby the machine can be profiled as it sits right now, in case you made changes. (Sort of a poor man’s Aida32.)
Gateway really nailed this one. Far from a theoretical feature that just seems nice — I’ve gotten solid practical value out of this system about a dozen times (I inherited a lot of Gateway machines in this office). Combine that with the fact that their support site is more usable than any other I’ve ever seen, and you have a pretty good argument for buying a Gateway.
Now if they had only stayed in South Dakota…