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Acer Adding New High-End Aspire Notebook Models

Acer introduced a pair of multimedia Aspire notebooks featuring 16:9, 1080p LCD displays, Blu-ray optical drives and Dolby surround-sound output.

The new top-of-the-line models, dubbed Aspire Gemstone Blue, are an extension of the Gemstone series launched last May, and are set to ship in April through Acer’s current distribution channels.

The higher-end Aspire 8920G features an 18.4-inch TFT LCD widescreen display (17-inch WXGA) with full HD 1,920 by 1,080 resolution and 8ms response time. True Dolby 5.1 surround sound is delivered through six integrated speakers, including a mini subwoofer, and graphics are handled by NVIDIA GeForce cards with 512MB of dedicated memory.

Described as a desktop replacement, the 9-pound notebook is powered by Intel Core 2 Duo processors and stores up to 640GB on two hard disk drives.

The fully featured version tops out at $1,700 retail.

It’s more modest sibling, the Aspire 6920, features a 16-inch widescreen display (15.4-inch WXGA), offered in 1,920 by 1,080, or 1,366 by 768, resolutions, plus 2.1 virtual Dolby surround audio. Pricing starts at $900 retail.

Both models feature a touch-sensitive media console interface with slide action menu and volume controls, and an HDMI port. Batteries provide 3.2 hours of playback time on the 18.4-inch notebook and 2.5 hours on the smaller version.

The Gemstone Blue series was introduced in Manhattan at what Acer executives described as the company’s first global news conference in the United States. During the presentation president Gianfranco Lanci confirmed Acer’s No. 3 market share position in the United States, behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell, and said his goal is to become the world’s largest notebook supplier by 2011.