Apple is unlikely to take legal action against the latest PC maker to copy the design and ethos of its popular iMac. One reason for this is that, for the first time, the PC maker is a giant and not a small player. And the damn thing is beige!

Gateway has unveiled an all-in-one PC ($799) that is being marketed in exactly the same manner as the immensely popular iMac.

"You literally just plug in the power cord, connect in a phone line, connect the keyboard and turn it on," said Todd Bradley, senior vice president, of Gateway Consumer.

Gateway says that the Astro is focused on the Internet and ease of use. The company calls it "your ticket to the Internet" in "a fun, compact design".

The USB-based Gateway Astro features a 400MHz Celeron processor, 64MB RAM and a 4.3GB hard drive built into an all-in-one case with a 15-inch monitor, CD-ROM drive, stereo speakers and a modem. Unlike the innovative iMac, it does have a floppy drive. It comes with Microsoft Windows 98, and a software bundle including Microsoft Word and Encarta.

But, unlike previous iMac imitators (see "Apple wages iMac-mimics war"), the Astro is not dressed in Apple's trademark translucent blue plastics, and so is unlikely to attract the attention of Steve Jobs' lawyers.