Acer unveils Windows 8 tablets, ultrabooks featuring hybrid designs

Acer calls Windows 8 a "breakthrough" for the PC industry

Acer on Monday unveiled new Windows 8 products, including tablets that come with attachable peripherals and ultrabooks fitted with touchscreens, as the company tries to set itself apart from the competition with new hardware designs that meld features from both tablets and notebooks.

The Taiwanese PC vendor showed off the devices during a press conference a day before the Computex show in Taipei, as company executives said they were focusing on new form factors to improve on tablet and notebook designs.

The smaller of the two tablets, the Iconia W510, features a 10.1-inch touchscreen that also comes with an attachable keyboard. Once connected, the keyboard can extend the device's battery life by up to 18 hours, and also be flipped on its back, turning it into a stand that can prop up the tablet.

The second tablet, the W700, has an 11.6-inch full HD touchscreen, and comes with an attachable "cradle", which acts as a stand to tilt the device at 70 degree or 20 degree viewing angles. The W700 tablet also features three USB ports.

Acer declined to reveal exact pricing and technical specs for any of the devices. Both tablets, however, are built with Intel microprocessors. In the case of the W700 tablet, the device uses Intel's new Core line of chips codenamed Ivy Bridge. A slide during Monday's presentation showed that the company was aiming on pricing the W510 from US$599 to $799, while the W700 would range between $799 and $999.

Acer also unveiled a pair of ultrabooks on Monday. The two ultrathin laptops are part of the Aspire S7 series, and are both built with touchscreens. The 11.6-inch model has up to 9 hours of battery life, while the 13.3-inch model has 12 hours. The 13.3-inch model, however, can open its display screen to a 180-degree angle. Both devices also run Intel chips.

According to a company slide, the two new ultrabooks will be priced at a range of between $999 and $1,799.

Following Monday's product announcements, Acer CEO JT Wang said the company was heading in the "right direction." Last year, Acer's market share fell down to fourth place globally as PC sales have lagged due to uncertain economic conditions and competition from Apple's iPad.

The company and other PC makers are now betting on Microsoft's Window 8 OS to help reignite the PC industry. "Windows 8 is a breakthrough and its going to benefit the end users," Wang said.

Microsoft, Intel and other PC vendors including Asus are expected to show off various new tablets and ultrabooks running Windows 8 during this year's Computex show.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service

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