Acer Rolls Out PC-Tablet Hybrids for the Undecided, Flexible
BERLIN — Taiwanese computer company Acer launched a series of new tablet-PC convertible products on Wednesday at the 2014 IFA tech conference in Berlin, Germany, as well as a low-cost $149 tablet, in what will become its lineup for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
The devices are designed for those who don’t want to give up a traditional notebook design and want more portable options and flexibility.
To start, the company announced it is expanding its 2-in-1 notebook line with the new Aspire Switch 11 series of 11.5-inch models and a new 10-inch Switch 10 device — both are a full Microsoft Windows-based notebook and tablet in one device.
While the Switch 11 has a design that allows the display to detach from the keyboard, Acer also launched two additional devices in what it’s calling the R series that keeps the display and keyboard attached.
But convertibles weren’t the only products that hit the stage in Berlin. The company also introduced three standalone tablets, including the Iconia Tab 8 W, a cheap ($149) 8-inch device that runs on Windows 8.1 (with Bing) and comes with Office 365 support (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and so on).
First, let’s dive into the Switch series, which offers four modes — for touch, typing, viewing and sharing — so users can position the device in a way that’s best for them. The devices come with a magnetic detachable snap hinge with two hooks that connect the tablet to the keyboard and a 2-way connector that holds the device in place for two-sided viewing. This lets you transition between the modes.
With a larger 11.6-inch screen, the Aspire Switch 11 — which runs Windows 8.1 — features Gorilla Glass 3, an anti-fingerprint coating and a responsive Chiclet keyboard.
The Acer Aspire Switch 11 series, available in October in the U.S. starting at $399, is targeted at both students and professionals. However, the Aspire Switch SW5-171 is more for power users, with a full HD 1080p display, a Core i5 processor, 4GB memory, up to 128GB of hard drive storage, a webcam and both a USB 3.0 and 2.0 port.
The Aspire Switch SW5-111 is designed more for mainstream users, featuring a 1366 x 768 resolution display, an Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core processor, 2GB memory and room for archiving data with up to 64GB of storage. It also comes with two USB 2.0 ports and a 2-megapixel front camera with full HD 1080p audio/video recording.
Acer also detailed its new Switch 10 line, which includes the 10.1-inch Aspire Switch 10 SW5-012, with full HD 1920 x 1200 (or a HD 1280 x 800) display. It also comes with Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the screen from scratches and is one of the thinnest 2-in-1 devices on the market, measuring in at less than 8.9 mm (0.35 inches) in tablet mode and 20.2 mm (0.44 inches) with the keyboard dock. It weighs 1.29 pounds for both the tablet and the keyboard together, offers 32/64GB of storage, 2GB of RAM and an Intel Atom quad-core processor.
The Switch 10 SW5-012 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Microsoft Office 365 Personal for free. Additional accessories include an Acer Active Pen for those who prefer to handwrite notes, an Acer Snap Case and a micro USB cable that serves as a connection and charging hub.
The company is also banking on consumer indecisiveness (or flexibility) with two other convertible notebook lines, the Aspire R 13 series and Aspire R 14 series.
The R 13 series comes with a 360-degree dual-torque hinge that can be used in six modes. The 13.3-inch device is less than one inch thick and clocks in at just three pounds. Its affixed to a hinge at the sides, so it can rotate 180-degrees in six different ways (standard notebook, browsing, stand, pad/tablet mode, tent and display mode).
The Aspire R 13 — also with Gorilla Glass 3 — is available in super high-resolution (2560 x 1440) or full high-definition (FHD) (1920 x 1080). The R 13 series can also be used with an optional Acer Active Pen for drawing, note taking and so on, and offers Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, up to 1TB Solid State Drives and up to 8GB of memory. The Aspire R 13 series will hit the U.S. in October with prices starting at $899.99.
Its final convertible — the 14-inch Aspire R 14 — uses a 360 degree dual-torque hinge design that allows four different usage modes. It comes with a 14-inch HD (1366 x 768) display and is available with a range of Intel processors, including Pentium, Core i3, i5 or i7, and can be configured with up to 12GB of memory for powerful performance. Some models offer NVidia GeForce 820M graphics to enhance the system’s visuals, the company said. It will be available in the U.S. in October, starting at $599.99.
Now for the standard tablets: Acer also introduced its Iconia Tab 8, a low budget 8-inch tablet ($149, starting in October) that runs on Windows 8.1 with Bing and comes with a one-year free Microsoft Office 365 Personal membership (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook).
The slim (0.38 inches) device is light in the hands — 0.8 pounds — and promises eight hours of battery life. It comes with a 1280×800 HD display with IPS technology, an Intel AtomTM Z3735G quad-core processor and can handle multitasking, by running games, playing videos and browsing the web.
Other tablets include the 10.1-inch Iconia Tab 10 ($199, starting in September) , with an emphasis on visuals and cinema sound (Dolby Digital Plus). It runs on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and is powered by a MediaTek quad-core processor.
More from Acer
Although Acer previously announced its first wearable device — the Liquid Leap — alongside its new Liquid Jade smartphone, it also made an appearance at the event. The Liquid Leap is part fitness tracker and part smartwatch, with the promises of keeping you updated on daily activity; it monitors steps taken, distance, calories burned and sleep while performing smartwatch-like tasks, including sending and receiving emails and text messages.
Acer debuted the Liquid Z500 smartphone, too; a 5-inch HD smartphone with 8.65 mm thinness that fits into your palm. But the device will only be available in Europe, starting later this year.
Another new product: The Revo One, which looks like a piggy bank and hooks up with Acer cloud. It acts as an entertainment hub, linking together notebooks, 2-in-1 devices and tablets with the help of Acer Cloud. It holds up to 6 terabytes in such a small form factor.
An interesting tidbit announced by Acer on Wednesday is that it’s working on a collection of low-budget smartphones that will cost as little as $49. The company said it wants to make its devices as affordable as possible for users.