Acer announces sub-$700 ultrabooks upgradeable to Windows 8

Acer's Timeline Ultra M5 ultrabooks are upgradable to Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 Pro for $14.99.

Acer has announced new Timeline Ultra M5 ultrabooks starting at $US679.99 that will be upgradable to Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 Pro for $US14.99.

The ultrabooks are just 20.54 millimeters thick with a starting weight of 1.95 kilograms and come with 14-inch and 15.6-inch screens. Two of the Timeline laptops starting at $US779.99 have Intel's latest processors, code-named Ivy Bridge, while the $US679.99 model has Intel's older and slower Core processor, code-named Sandy Bridge.

The laptops come with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate, and users can move to Windows 8 Pro by purchasing the upgrade from Microsoft's website. The offer is valid through January 31 next year. Microsoft has not yet announced a specific release date for Windows 8.

A sample configuration of a Timeline Ultra M5-481TG-6814 at $US779.99 has a 14-inch screen and Intel's Core i5 3317U processor, which runs at 2.6GHz. The laptop comes with Nvidia's GeForce GT640M LE graphics cards, which could improve laptop graphics. A Timeline Ultra M5-581TG-6666 with a 15.6-inch screen and similar processors is priced at $US829.99. The $US679.99 Timeline Ultra M5-481T-6670 with the Sandy Bridge processor comes with Intel integrated graphics.

The laptops have a 1.3-megapixel webcam, two USB 3.0 drives and up to 500GB of hard-drive storage. An anti-theft features allows laptops to be disabled in case of theft, and to be enabled when found.

The laptops offer up to eight hours of battery life. The systems will become available in the US at the end of June. The company did not immediately comment on worldwide availability.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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