Acer’s new products offer possibilities

After a good buildup of hype, Acer unveiled its new lineup of devices Tuesday in New York at its “a touch more connected event,” hinting at a new smartphone and connected wearable and announcing new Iconia tablets, five new laptops, a new Chromebook it claims is the world’s most powerful, and two new all-in-one PCs.

New Acer CEO Jason Chen spoke of the Taiwanese manufacturer working on a strategy tailored to the needs and desires of its retail and business customers. Included in consumers’ needs must be the choice of operating systems because Acer’s new offerings run Android, Windows 8.1 and Chrome OS. Chen also hinted at the company’s plan to offer its customers personal cloud storage, though details of this program were not immediately released.

Here’s a rundown of the company’s newest devices:

Iconia One 7 and Iconia Tab 7 Tablets
The Iconia One 7 is a budget 7-inch Android tablet comes in 10 colors and has an Intel dual-core processor and front and back cameras. Another 7-inch tablet, the Iconia Tab 7 has 3G connectivity built into its aluminum body. The Tab 7 has front and back cameras, a quad-core processor and Bluetooth capability.

Aspire U5 Series and Z3 Series All-In-Ones
Both Windows 8.1-based touchscreen AIOs feature 23-inch full-HD IPS displays. The U5-620 will have advanced video and audio communications certified by Skype, with its dual microphones and 1080p webcam. The U5-620 features an Intel Haswell processor, optional Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics, up to 1TB of storage and up to 16GB of RAM. The 23-inch IPS screen all-in-one folds down into a tablet mode and sports a kickstand. The Aspire U5 Series will be available in late June with prices starting at $999.
The Aspire Z3-615 also sports a Haswell processor and optional Nvidia graphics. This all-in-one also boasts Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater audio. The Aspire Z3-615 will be available in late June, starting at $599.99.

Aspire E Series Laptops
The E15 will have a 15-inch display and will come in a few versions with Intel or AMD chips as well as touchscreen options and a choice of five colors — Midnight Black, Titanium Silver, Tiger’s Eye Brown, Sapphire Blue, and Garnet Red. The E14 will offer glossy and matte 14-inch displays, the option of a touchscreen, a choice of processors, and will come in a range of six colors — Piano Black, Pearl White, Glossy Copper, Ruby Red, Topaz Blue, and Jade Green. The E14 and E15 will start at $299 and weigh between 5.07 pounds and 5.95 pounds. Featuring Haswell processors, Nvidia GeForce 800M or AMD Radeon R-Series graphics, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. Acer claims the Windows 8.1 laptops will provide up to seven hours of battery life.
The Aspire E11 will include touchscreen options as well as a fan-less design and up to 1TB of storage. The E11 is 21.2 mm thick and weighs 2.84 pounds. The 11.6-inch laptop features a 1366×768 11.6-inch display, is powered with a choice of Intel Pentium Quad Core and Intel Celeron CPUs, and boasts up to 8GB of RAM. The Aspire E11 will ship in four colors — Cool Silver, Rhodonite Pink, Tiger’s Eye Brown, and Quartz Blue and will be available in June at prices starting at $269.99.

Acer introduced its newest Chrome OS laptop, this one sporting an Intel Core i3 1.7GHz processor and Intel HD4400 graphics. Calling it the “fastest Chromebook in the industry,” Acer says this is the first Chromebook to run on an Intel Core processor since Google released its pricey i5 Pixel. Details were short, but there will be 14-inch and 15-inch models.

Aspire Switch 10
The Aspire Switch 10 is the star of the show in my opinion. This two-in-one Windows 8.1 device has a unique magnetic detachable hinge and a 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 IPS display with viewing angles of up to 178 degrees. The new hybrid device has four modes – notebook, tablet, display, and tent. What sets it apart from other hybrids is the Acer Snap Hinge, which also allows for latch-free magnetic keyboard docking.
The Aspire Switch 10 is also thin and light, measuring less than 8.9 mm thin in tablet mode and 20.2 mm with the keyboard dock and weighing 1.29 pounds as a tablet and 2.58 pounds when attached to the keyboard. With both its functionality and lighter form factor, the Aspire Switch 10 trumps heavier hybrids by Lenovo as well as devices that are less-capable as tablets such as HP’s Split X2 and Asus’ Transformer Book T100.
Offering up to 64GB of internal storage, the Switch 10’s keyboard also features expandable storage up to 500GB. The Switch 10 is powered by an Intel dual-core 1.33 GHz Bay Trail processor and has 2GB of RAM.
The laptop will be available later this month with prices starting at $379.99.
As a Chromebook enthusiast, I’d love to see this hybrid as a Chrome OS device. But maybe Acer’s holding its cards close to the vest. Intel and Google have announced a joint event on May 6. At a similar event last September, Intel and Google announced Chromebooks from HP, Acer and Toshiba as well as a Chromebox from Asus. So maybe I’ll be pleasantly shocked and Intel and Google will announce a Chromebook Switch 10. Dare to dream.

Chen said more products will be announced later, including the Liquid Jade, a new 5-inch Gorilla Glass display smartphone running Android that features “no flat surface” and will launch this summer. No other details were released about the phone except that it, too, will be offered in a range of colors. Acer’s first wearable fitness tracker, a 17mm band called the Liquid Leap, will support activity and lifestyle tracking as well as messaging and notifications. The Liquid Leap will likely launch packaged with the Liquid Jade.

About Chris Cox

I love technology, but I could do without the tinkering. I'm a firm believer in technology that just works. If it's intuitive, that leads to greater adoption, which leads to more advances, and that benefits us all. That said, a little tinkering on the front end that helps you every day is worth the effort. I'm all for simple solutions that keep me -- and you -- from reinventing the wheel every day.