According to the latest tech chatter, Acer has the MacBook Air in its sights and plans to offer a competitive product in the form of an ultra-thin measuring a scant 1.9 centimeters.
Rumor also has it that Acer plans on cramming one of Intel's next-gen Calpella ULV processors into its upcoming ultra-thin. We're talking about one of Intel's ULV Core i5 or i7 processors here, which would be no small deal. These chips come rated at up to 1.2GHz, but can ramp as high as 1.8GHz and 2.26GHz in Turbo Boost mode, and they also support Hyperthreading.
If this thing comes to fruition, it would offer traditional notebook-like performance in a frame smaller than the company's existing Timeline series.
No other details are yet available, including price or availability.
Ultra-thin notebooks have been met with mixed success so far, but just in case 2010 proves to be the year that thin is in, Acer will be prepared. According to reports, the ambitious OEM plans to launch an ultra-thin laptop sometime this year. It will probably be basd on Intel's Capella ULV processors, which should give it a bit of oomph.
Sadly, there really aren't any other details to go on, such as specs, specific launch date, or even a projected price point. But we do know Acer plans to keep busy in the mobile market, especially since the OEM has set its sights on being the No. 1 notebook maker by 2011, which would entail leapfrogging over HP.
To help get there, Acer will continue to flood the market with various models, including a Chrome OS netbook sometime this year. Acer will also get into the ebook reader game, another popular segment, but doesn't yet have any plans of jumping on the handheld tablet bandwagon.
Acer's gone and released an 11.-6-inch touchscreen convertible laptop that's currently being test driven in France. It's called the Aspire 1420P, and underneath the hood sits a dual-core Intel Celeron SU2300 CULV processor rather than an Atom chip. What that means is despite its size, typical netbook-esque speed limits don't apply,
Other vitals include Intel's integrated GMA 4500MHD graphics, 3GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an SD card reader, HDMI and VGA ports, and Windows 7 Home Premium. The tablet also comes equipped with a 6-cell battery Acer claims will provide between 6 and 8 hours of juice.
At least one French retailer is selling the unit for about $690, which seems a little on the high side. Should the 1420P make its way to the States, we suspect the price will be a bit lower.
Acer continues to make impressive strides in its consumer PC business, but lest the company become too one-dimensional, there's been a recent shift in focus towards the enterprise side.
"You can't be a PC player just on consumer, we need to be a PC player in all segments," Acer president and CEO Gianfranco Lanci said in an interview with Bloomberg. "This year, you'll see a big effort from our side on commercial."
Lanci went on to say that he expects servers to account for about 4 percent of the Acer's sales this year, a segment he says offers up to twice as much profit margins as its netbook, notebook, and other consumer products.
Like a freight train going downhill on greased up tracks, there doesn't appear to be any stopping Acer, although there's no going down for this OEM.
Quite the opposite, actually, as Acer's revenue and profit numbers for 2009 climbed to record highs. According to Acer's financial report for 2009, the company's consolidated revenues reached $17.5 billion with net operating profit hitting $478.1 million. Both represent Acer's best annual figures on record to date.
While there have been some in the enthusiast community who have criticized Acer for a perceived lack in quality, that perception, whether true or not, has done little to curb the company's sales. And ever the confident OEM, Acer said recently it plans on becoming the world's No. 1 PC maker by 2012, a spot currently occupied by HP.
Acer may have taken a cue from Intel in terms of learning how to play hardball. We're not sure what exactly the OEM said to Compal Electronics, but whatever it was, it worked. Citing anonymous sources in the notebook industry, news and rumor site DigiTimes reports that Compal has suddenly turned orders from Asus to produce volume notebooks.
Asus had originally wanted to keep 70 percent of its notebook production with Pegatron Technology and outsource the remaining 30 percent to Foxconn. But in order to save costs, Asus decided to cut back orders with Pegatron to 50 percent and outsource the other 20 percent to a third player.
That's where Compal comes in. Asus had interest in letting Compal produce anywhere from 10-20 percent of those remaining orders in the second half of 2010, but Acer, speaking in private, managed to convince Compal to turn the orders down.
What's interesting is that Acer's market muscle might extend beyond Compal. Quanta Computer, Wistron, and Inventec are also weary about working with Asus, the sources added.
Gateway computer introduced some new models into three of its desktop computer lines. The upgraded machines feature more power, capacity, and performance while maintaining Gateway’s trademark low price tag.
In the FX line, revamped machines sport Intel Core i7 processors, Radeon HD5850, at least 8GB of DDR3 memory and Blu-ray/DVD or DVD-RW drive and numerous improvements to its chassis design. The highest priced FX unit runs at $1699.99. The DX line runs Intel Core i5 processors and various nVidia graphics and Blu-ray options depending on your configuration maintaining a midline pricing of about $849.99 (Nvidia GT220, 4x Blu-Ray). Lastly, the SX series of small-form-factor desktops gets Core i3 processors, GMA X4500HD graphics, 6GB DDR3 memory retailing at $599.99 and handles HDMI out of the box for HTPC builders.
You can check out Gateway’s latest improvements at the Gateway store.
Acer's never been shy about its plans to become the world's largest PC maker, but as it turns out, gunning for that No. 1 spot, at least in terms of notebook shipments, might be harder than the OEM thought.
In the last quarter of 2009, Acer shipped about 9.5 million notebooks, an impressive number, but not as impressive as the 11.38 million units HP managed to ship out. That gives HP a bit of breathing room after Acer previously closed the gap to 1.05 million units (the narrowest it's ever been) when it shipped 9.91 million units in the third quarter, compared to Acer's 8.86 million.
HP has the North American market to thank for increasing its lead, due mostly to a series of sales promotions during the holiday shopping season, including a sub-$300 mainstream notebook.
Looking ahead, HP expects to ship 44 million notebooks in 2010, while Acer will push its ultra-thin line in an attempt to move beyond its original goal of 40 million units.
Lame name aside, Acer's first foray into 3D-capable monitors serves up 1,920x1,080 pixels along with a 120Hz refresh rate. But it's the 3D that's of most interest, and to help give images an extra dimension, you'll need to don a pair of Nvidia's 3D Vision active-shutter glasses.
"As 3D content becomes more widely available in popular games and videos, users desire computing products that can take advantage of these new capabilities," said Acer America's senior product marketing manager Irene Chan. "We are excited to offer Acer's first monitor to support 3D technology."
Other specs include an 80,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio; 300cd/m2 of brightness; a 2ms response time; over 72 percent of the NTSC color gamut; and HDMI, DVI, and VGA inputs.
Acer plans to start shipping the GD235HZ this month for $400. Tack on another $200 for Nvidia's 3D Vision Kit.
It may have taken a long while for Apple to finally introduce the iPad, but now that it has, expect every other tech company to try and cash in on the tablet mania. Everyone except Acer, that is.
According to Acer Taiwan president Scott Lin, the always confident and frequently outspoken OEM isn't planning on tossing its hat into the tablet ring and going toe-to-toe with the iPad. Instead, Acer is content to focus on ultra-thin notebooks in 2010.
It's not that Acer couldn't build a tablet, says Lin, The issue, he says, is that such a product doesn't have a place in Acer's business model. Not only that, but Acer appears to have little interest in designing an online store similar to Apple's iTunes ecosystem to support a tablet device.
The big question then becomes, 'What kind of impact will the iPad and similar devices have on the ultra-thin notebook and netbook markets?' And the answer, according to Lin, is not very much, since they each target different consumer groups. Whether or not that's really the case, we'll find out as 2010 marches on.