Acer Expands Computing Selection

Bolsters gaming, convertible, 2-in-1 lines; plans 1st smartphone, wearables for U.S.
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New York — More than 40 products unveiled here by Acer mark a major expansion by the company into gaming computers and include an expanded selection of convertible two-in-one notebooks, detachables and 15-inch Chromebooks.

The company will also bring its first smartphone and first wearables to the U.S., and it launched its first Android tablet for the education market.

The smartphone is a Windows model that will be available in June in Microsoft stores at an extremely low unlocked price of $79. The phone, which has HSPA+21Mbps but lacks LTE, will also be rolled out to other retail channels, and more smartphones will “probably” come to the U.S. by year’s end, Acer smartphone president S.T. Liew told TWICE.

During a press conference, Acer president/CEO Jason Chen called the introductions part of a 2015 strategy to build on Acer’s strengths in computing while accelerating its smartphone growth and expending into new and growing markets such as the connected car, smart homes, healthcare services and communications. He didn’t outline plans for the new markets.

He did, however, say that Acer is among the four to five major survivors in the PC industry and vowed that “we will be the last man standing in the PC industry.”

The smartphone market is also challenged, he said, because only one company makes a profit in smartphones. Chen predicted that “there will be more people trying to exit the segment than get in,” but Acer will grow via consistency and persistence.

Here’s what the company announced, by segment:

Gaming computers: The company offers the V Nitro gaming notebook and a 34-inch gaming monitor, but it will launch a Predator series of gaming computers consisting of a desktop in the third quarter, a 15- and 17-inch notebook in the fourth-quarter with a step up in performance from the V Nitro, and a Predator tablet in the third quarter.

Few details were released, nor was pricing, but executives said the Predator notebook will have programmable buttons for shortcuts, easy expandability, cooling system and a subwoofer. The tablet will feature haptic feedback, a speaker on all four sides, and aggressive design.

They will be joined in September by a Predator 34-inch curved gaming monitor with 21:9 aspect ratio and QHD 3,440 by 1,440 display at $1,299. It joins a 34-inch flat display for gamers

Wearables: The company last year launched the Liquid Leap wristband with 1-inch touchscreen but didn’t bring it to the U.S. In the third quarter, however, Liquid Leap will wash up on U.S. shores along with two other wristbands, including the Liquid Leap Fit with 1-inch touchscreen, heart-rate sensor and galvanic skin sensor to detect stress. It’s targeted to retail for less than $100. The other new model is the Liquid Leap Curve, which features a curved touchscreen, heart-rate and stress sensors, and curved battery and PC boards. It will retail for more than $100. Both feature interchangeable bands.

All of the wristbands receive notifications and control smartphone-music playback.

The company is also developing additional wearables but declined to say what types.

Smartphones: The company doubled its sales in the past year by expanding its selection and expanding distribution to 55 countries from about 25, and this year the company will enter the U.S. with a Windows model shown at the Mobile World Congress.

Acer will remain focused and selective in its offerings and “not be everything to everyone in the world,” said Liew.

The U.S. phone is the Liquid M220, Acer’s first Windows phone. It will ship with Windows 8.1 but be upgradable to Windows 10 for free when available from Microsoft. It features 4-inch 233PPI WVGA touchscreen, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash and 89-degree lens with autofocus, 2-magpixed fixed-focus front camera,  Qualcomm 200 Snapdragon 1.2GHz dual-core processor,

1GB RAM, replaceable 1,300 mAh battery, 8GB storage, MicroSD slot, Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 EDR

The Liquid X2 is also new but not for the U.S., featuring 5.5-inch touchscreen, three SIM card slots, and a “smart flip” cover with a slot on front for quick access to often-used apps.

Chromebooks: The new 15.6-inch Chromebook joins a current 15.6-inch consumer model and a 15.6-inch commercial model.

The new model, the $199 CB3-531, is the new entry point into Acer Chromebooks and features Intel Celeron N2830 dual-core processor, and battery life of 11.5 hours, said to be longer than that of any Chromebook in the 15-inch segment. The other two models step up to Intel Core i3 and i5 processors.

It will be available in July with 16GB storage and 2GB RAM.

Convertible notebooks: The 13.3-inch Aspire R13 will be joined by the new 11.6-inch R11, due in July starting at $249. It features a new dual-torque hinge to rotate the display smoothly over 360 degrees to four positions from notebook to tablet. The hinge is also said to deliver wobble-free use in notebook position.

Other key features include scratch-resistant fabric-texture cover, HD touchscreen with Zero Air Gap technology and Gorilla Glass, Inter Pentrium processor, Intel HD graphics, up to 8GB RAM, up to 1TB HDD, SD card reader, USB 3.0 and 2.0, and Acer webcam.

Two-in-one notebooks: The company added two Switch 10 series 10.1-inch detachables to join the Switch 11 and 12 series with 11.6- and 12.1-inch displays, respectively. The new series features second-gen snap hinge to make it easier to detach the display from the keyboard. It also rotates 360 degrees into four positions like a convertible.

The Switch 10 E will be available in July starting at $279, and the Switch 10 is due in August starting at $399.

Both feature Intel quad-core Atom processor, 2GB RAM, IPS display, up to 64GM eMMC storage, optional HDDs up to 1TB.

 The Switch 10 E features 1,280 by 800 HD display, and the Switch 10 steps up to FullHD 1,920 by 1,200 display with Zero Air Gap technology, a Gorilla Glass 3 back cover, and support for passive and active pen input.

The 10E features extended battery life up to 12 hours.

The company will also refresh the Switch 11 series with the new hinge design and with improves processing power and ergonomics Details will be announce later in the quarter.

Tablets: The company’s first Android tablet for the education market is the Iconia Tab 10, due in May starting at $299. It joins Switch two-in-ones available to the education market.

Education-oriented features include NFC, which lets students “hand in” homework to the teacher’s tablet, and Precision Plus technology, which lets kids use a pencil or stylus with a fine tip of 2mm to draw or write with more precision, thanks to more densely placed touch sensors.

Another new tablet is the Iconia One 8 at $149, due in July

Notebooks:  The company replaced its Aspire ES series, Aspire V15 and E series. All ships with Windows 8.1 and will get a free Windows 10 upgrade.

All V 15 and E series feature newly designed chiclet keyboard said to offer “solid” tactile feedback and increased travel distance, All new notebooks feature the company’s first Precision Touchpad to provide touchpad gestures consistent with those of a touchscreen, including pinch-to-zoom, swipe, and scroll.

The ES series , available in July, is positioned as the most affordable of the new notebook series and comes with five screen sizes from 11.6 to 17.3 inches. Price start at $229 for the 11.6-inch model. They come with Pentium/Celeron processors, up to 8GB RAM, 1TB of HDD storage, optional DVD-RW drive, and 802.11 ac with Qualcomm MU-MIMO technology.

The new E series, due in July starting at $379, is positioned for everyday use and comes in 14-, 15.6- and 17.3-inch sizes and in multiple colors with textile patterns on the top and bottom. They’re Skype-certified and come with NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphics processors, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 2TB HDD or 1TB solid-state hybrid device (SSHD) storage.

The Aspire V 15, due in August starting at $599 , is positioned as an entertainment device with FullHD screen, DVD-RW drive, and Dolby Digital Plus audio technology. It comes with textured aluminum top, fifth-generation Intel Core processors, DVD-RW drive, NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphics processor, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 2TB HDD or 1TB solid-SSHD.

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