With the big trade show Computex opening Tuesday in Taiwan, the announcement avalanche has begun. It's beginning with several new touch-oriented products from Acer, including a 6-inch phone/tablet and the first 8-inch Windows 8 tablet.
Acer's Iconia W3-810 Windows 8 tablet, priced at about $380, features a 1280x800 8.1-inch screen, a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail processor, as much as 64 GB of storage, microSD, micro-HDMI, USB and Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 pre-installed. Acer also unveiled updates to its touchscreen-based Aspire S3 and S7 laptops.
The phone/tablet combo, a form factor which some have labeled with the awkward portmanteau word phablet, is called the Liquid S1, has a 5.7-inch display with 1280x720 resolution, a MediaTek 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of memory, 8 GB storage, and it runs Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean." However, Acer's roll-out plans for the S1 currently include Asia and Europe but not the U.S.
RT Not 'So Influential'
Acer is also releasing one of the first Ultrabooks Windows 8 laptops using Intel's Haswell Core processors, which the chipmaker began shipping Monday. Acer's S7-392, available with a 13.3-inch screen, has one-third more battery life than its non-Haswell Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks.
PC makers like Acer need to be realistic about which hardware bandwagon they join and to what degree, given the declining sales prospects of personal computers. Industry research firm IDC, for instance, expects PC shipments to drop by about 8 percent this year on top of earlier declines, while tablets are booming.
On Monday, Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said that the Windows RT operating system, which does not run legacy Windows applications and is designed for ARM-based tablets and other devices, is not "so influential anymore," and his company has not yet decided if it will release an RT product.
NFC ID Badges
Wang added that about a third of Acer's laptops released by the fourth quarter will have touchscreens, and he expects nearly all computers to have touchscreens within three years. Touchscreen PCs have been driven by Windows 8's emphasis on that form of interaction through its tile-based interface for touch devices.
Sales of RT devices have been slow, and Microsoft is reportedly ready to cut the prices of smaller RT-based tablets, by cutting the price it charges tablet makers for its software. RT tablet makers have already started dropping their pricetags, such as nearly 50 percent cuts by Dell and Asus for their RT models. It is not yet clear how much of a price break Microsoft is willing to offer.
Other tech on display at Computex will include attendees' ability to use near-field communication-enabled smartphones as ID badges, a phablet from Asus that accepts handwriting via a stylus, an Asus laptop that switches between Android and Windows operating systems, and Foxconn's announcement that it will manufacture at least five devices based on Mozilla's open-source Firefox OS.