ASUS kills the Eee PC and shrinks the Atom market

Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: asus, acer, Intel, atom, eee pc

2012 has been a very tough year to be a manufacture of mobile products and not too easy on the designers either.  We started off with the Ultraboook form factor, specifically the challenge to make parts which could allow the ultrathin design to be functional in the real world while still aiming for that $1000 price point.  The prices of SSDs have come down and the processors have also marginally dropped in price but the materials required to make a sturdy chassis of exceptional thinness have not. 

Then Microsoft decided to make things interesting with their Surface tablet, which is a wonderful platform to show off Windows 8 on but not the best way to maintain a relationship with mobile manufacturers.  Regardless of the price that Microsoft chooses to release the Surface at, each Surface sale represents a lost sale for another mobile manufacturer.  Acer, for one has had no problems voicing their complaints about a software company muscling into hardware territory.

Today we heard from DigiTimes that ASUS is dropping their Eee PC line, along with Intel's Atom processor and Acer is dropping netbooks altogether.  While part of the problem with the Intel's Atom is that it has always had a hard time providing users with the computing experience they desire, dropping the entire form factor implies more problems that simply performance.  Manufacturers could build netbooks with AMD's Trinity or even NVIDIA's Tegra depending on the agreements in place with Intel, however the two top tier mobile manufactures have straight out dropped the form factor, with only MSI staying in the market.  While the netbook may have only been of use to a certain younger crowd with limited money and expectations there were certain Eee PC models designed for the desktop which made decent low powered internet access machines which are also going the way of the dinosaur which may be missed a little by a larger audience. 

The effective death of the netbook will have an effect on manufacturers like Pegatron and some sections of Intel, the real question is whether the end user will even notice or if they were already only considering a 13" laptop or Ultrabook.

 

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"Intel may be forced to adjust its roadmap for PC-use Atom processors as the top-2 netbook vendors – Asustek Computer and Acer – both plan to stop manufacturing related products, according to sources from notebook players.

Asustek is already set to halt its Eee PC product line and officially phase out from the IT industry after completely digesting any remaining inventory. As for Acer, so far, the company has not yet made any plans to open new netbook projects, indicating that the vendor may also plan to step out of the market."

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Source: DigiTimes

Acer's Thunderbolt capable Win8 tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 11, 2012 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: iconia w700, iconia w510, acer, tablet, thunderbolt, win8

AnandTech checked out Acer's two new tablets, the Iconia W700 and W510, both of which are designed for Windows 8.  The W700 is the more impressive of the two for a number of reasons but the best feature has to be the ThunderBolt port, which allows this tablet to function as much more than a Tablet and might actually provide a decent excuse to use Cloud computing.  It is a little large to be held and carried around for a long time, but with the possibility of a low voltage Ivy Bridge processor running the tablet some space must be devoted to spread the heat.  The W510 is smaller and comes with an optional keyboard dock and you can check up on its specs as well as more on the W700 in this article at AnandTech.

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"My first meeting of Computex wasn't a meeting at all, rather it was Acer's press conference a day before the show officially started. In its press conference, Acer introduced a top to bottom lineup of touch enabled Windows 8 devices."

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Source: AnandTech

Computex: Acer Unveils Two New ICONIA Windows 8 Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 01:25 AM |
Tagged: video, windows 8, tablet, iconia w700, iconia w510, computex, acer

Acer–a computer OEM mostly known in the US for its tablets and notebooks–today announced two new ICONIA W series tablets running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS. Sporting IPS displays and a white chassis finish, they provide plenty of connectiivity options in a sleek package. Unfortunately, the company is not yet talking about specifications, pricing, or availability. Acer is currently showing off the tablets at Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Acer has started off Computex 2012 news week with a bevy of product announcements. The latest products being unveiled at the exhibition are two new ICONIA tablets running Windows 8–the ICONIA W510 and W700. Both tablets feature a white colored chassis with dark bezel around the screen on the front face. The front of the tablets include a Windows (key) button and a front facing camera (at least on the W700). From there, the two tablets differ in physical size and available expansion ports. It is unclear if what exactly the internals are in the two tablets as those specifications have not been announced.

The W510 is the smallest of the two with a 10.1” IPS display. It also comes with a dock that features a chiclet keyboard, trackpad, and extra battery that the company claims can extend the tablet’s battery life to up to 18 hours. The dock has one full size USB 2.0 port and a charging port (dock connector). The tablet itself packs a docking port, SIM card and microSD card slots, micro USB connection, headphone audio output jack, and HDMI video output. Further, the ICONIA W510 has two speakers, volume control buttons, an integrated microphone, and power button.

Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.

On the other hand, the Acer ICONIA W700 features a 11.6” IPS display with 1920x1080 resolution, two bottom edge mounted speakers, front facing camera, microphone, and windows key. Acer has packed the tablet with the latest external IO options including three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, and a headphone output jack. The tablet also has a DC power jack (it must draw more power than USB can give it) and two vents along the top of the tablet. Interestingly, this does suggest that the W700 tablet has much beefier hardware than the 510, which does not have those vents. It will be interesting to see exactly what Acer has managed to pack into the small metal chassis hardware wise!

Another notable difference between the W510 and W700 is the dock. The W700’s dock does not have an integrated keyboard or tackpad. It only acts as a stand (with two small speakers and a windows key) that can be used to prop up the tablet in either portrait or landscape mode.

Engadget managed to get some hands-on time with the two Acer tablets and accompanying docks. You can see a video of the W700 above and photos and a video walk-through of the W510 can be found here. Despite the keyboard-less dock, I’m interested in the W700, though I’ll be waiting for more detailed information on the specifications before getting too excited. Despite my “meh” feeling towards Windows 8 on a desktop, I did like it when paired with a touchscreen convertible tablet, and the slate looked pretty smooth in the video (so I’m hopeful that this will be a solid device). Stay tuned for more detailed specifications as either Acer releases it or someone manages to snag one to take apart.

Source: Engadget

Computex: Acer announces Aspire S7 touchscreen 11-in and 13.3-in Ultrabooks

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, computex, touchscreen, s7, aspire, acer

In what will likely be the first of dozens of such exposes this week, Acer has just announced a pair of Ultrabooks that will fall under the new Aspire S7 brand in both 11-in and 13.3-in screen sizes.  According to a post at Engadget, the new Ultrabooks are actually touch enabled and will support being laid completely flat with a 180 degree hinge. 

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While other details on the specifications seem to be missing from the Computex announcement, we can assume these are going to be Intel Ivy Bridge based designs.  The screens are being called "full HD" which indicates a 1080p resolution that would really help the S7 stand out from other current Ultrabooks (as well as raise the price). 

Battery life is claimed at 9 hours on the 11-in model and 12 hours on the 13.3-in model, though all such claims should be tested before you plop down cash on a preorder. 

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Can someone please explain how laying down a notebook flat is helpful?

The Ultrabook is less than 13mm thick and the chassis is built with a unibody aluminum design which should immediately draw comparisons to the Apple Macbook Pro.  A backlit keyboard and a glass lid on the 13-in model round out our known information on the Aspire S7 but don't expect availability until we see Windows 8 ship sometime this fall.

Source: Engadget

Acer's Fermi powered Timeline Ultra M3

Subject: Mobile | April 5, 2012 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, acer, timeline ultra m3, timeline, aspire

Acer's Aspire series has gained an Ultrabook model, the Timeline Ultra M3.  Powered by an i5-2467M and bolstered by an NVIDIA GT 640M, this 15.6" 1366 x 768 ultrabook should be able to boot quickly thanks to the hybrid storage system which includes a 20GB mSATA SSD while the 500GB HDD offers storage at a lower price than a purely SSD solution would offer.  While it sounds good on paper, by the end of the review Hardware Canucks were very disappointed with its "ghastly trackpad, an unnecessary space consuming optical drive, testicle-searing exterior temperatures, a poor keyboard layout, a low resolution screen ...". 

If you think they were overly harsh, Matt was no kinder to it when he reviewed this Ultrabook.

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"Acer's new Timeline Ultra M3 blazes a path that no others have been willing to take. By incorporating one of NVIDIA's new GT 640M Kepler-based graphics processors within their design, they have become the first company to include a gaming-grade GPU into an Ultrabook. It sounds great but does this combination actually work out as planned? We find out."

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Acer

Introduction, The Kepler Scoop, Design, User Interface

Join us today at 12pm EST / 9am CST as PC Perspective hosts a Live Review on the new GeForce GTX 680 graphics card.  We will discuss the new GPU technology, important features like GPU Boost, talk about performance compared to AMD's lineup and we will also have NVIDIA's own Tom Petersen on hand to run some demos and answer questions from viewers.  You can find it all at http://pcper.com/live!!

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The Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 is a unique laptop. It was the first product on the market to contain a GPU based of Nvidia’s new Kepler architecture, beating out not only other laptops but also the desktop video cards. It’s also a rare 15.6” ultrabook. Though a lot of companies have talked about them, not many have actually offered them.

You might expect, considering this two facts, that the Acer Aspire M3 would be outrageously expensive. But this is Acer we’re talking about, and if there’s anything the company stands for, it’s value. This laptop, should you find it on store shelves (it is a globe product with limited production, and they don’t seem to have hit North America quite yet), will retail for around $800. Or so we’ve been told - given the so far limited supply, we would not be surprised if prices were a bit higher until more units are made available to quell demand. 

So, what’s inside this ultra-sized ultrabook? Besides the GT 640M, nothing surprising.

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Though large enough to accommodate a decent discrete GPU, this laptop still has a low-voltage Core i5 processor. That’s going to put some limits on the overall performance of the laptop, but it also should help extend battery life.

This is likely to be the only Kepler based laptop on the market for a month or two. The reason for this is Ivy Bridge - most of the manufacturers are waiting for Intel’s processor update before they go to the trouble of designing new products. 

Continue reading our review of the new Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 and how discrete GPUs and Ultrabooks can work together!!

Acer Launches New "AcerCloud" Cloud Service

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2012 - 09:42 PM |
Tagged: sync, streaming, cloud, CES, acer

Last summer Acer purchased a cloud-service company for $325 million, and now that we are at CES the reason for the acquisition is apparent. According to Cnet, Acer is launching a new cloud service. Dubbed the "AcerCloud," the new service allows users to stream and sync files between Windows computers and Android mobile devices. Acer Chairman J. T. Wang stated that the company is "determined to make it very successful and sustainable."

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The new cloud service will launch with three applications to facilitate streaming and syncing photos, music, videos, and documents. These apps are named Clear.fi Photo, Clear.fi Media, and AcerCloud Docs. The company is going to integrate the cloud streaming service with their ultrabook lineup. AcerCloud is only the first of many cloud streaming services to emerge recently. Amazon Cloud Drive Service, Google Music, and Apple's iCloud are just a few of the popular streaming services that Acer has to compete with. That's before taking into account syncing services like Dropbox, Sugar Sync, and SpiderOak among others. Needless to say, the AcerCloud is going to have quite a bit of competition to contend with. Whether their proprietary cloud can carve a niche into the market filled with platform agnostic alternatives remains to be seen; however, competition is a good thing and Acer is likely not (going to be) the last company to launch a cloud service of its own this year.

Do you use any of the streaming and/or syncing services? What would it take to give Acer's solution a try?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Bulldozers at Knights Corner; duelling server chips

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2011 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: xeon e5, xeon, servers, opteron, knights ferry, knights corner, interlagos, hp, dell, bulldozer, acer

As you would expect, no sooner does AMD release news on its new line of Bulldozer era Opterons, Intel follows suit with news on their next generation of server chips.  AMD hit the news and the server room first thanks to interest shown by Dell, HP and Acer.   These vendors have based a series of 2U servers on AMD's new chip as well as a family of blade servers.  Dell's Poweredge C6145 was probably the most ambitious, with 4 sockets you can have 128 cores and 1TB of DDR3 in a 2U rack mount server and FusionIO was suggesting the inclusion of their 1.2TB Iodrive Duo card to ensure your storage media can keep up.

Intel also spoke with The Inquirer and other news sites about their new Xeon E5 processor family as well as providing more information about Knights Bridge. Intel has reached out to a different set of clients for the new Xeon, focusing on NVIDIA's latest target market of High Performance Computing (that HPC acronym you see hanging around Fermi).  They tout over 10,000 chips sold, some of which are sitting pretty in the TOP500.  Also on display was their Knights Ferry accelerator board, again targeted for the HPC crowd that NVIDIA has been courting.

So this processor generation we have Intel and NVIDIA fighting it out for HPC customers, while AMD seems to be without major competition in high density computing, although ARM has certainly been making inroads into that market.  

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"AMD's partners have shown a small but impressive array of Bulldozer Opteron kit. Dell's 2U eight socket beast was arguably the most impressive of the lot on show in Munich, but AMD will know it needs more than just one vendor in its fight against Intel. Thankfully it has the might of HP also showing that its traditional rackmount and blade servers can make use of AMD's Bulldozer silicon."

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Source: The Register

The Ultrabook promises to be really big ... in about a year

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2011 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, asus, acer

Ah, the Ultrabook; Intel's attempt to meet Apple on its own territory and playing by Apple's established rules.  Since there has been so much news and speculation about the new ultramobile platform from Intel some of the information we have been given has degraded into noise.  The original run was very limited, with about 50,000 units ordered by the major manufactures like ASUS.  There seems to have been a second order placed with a much more respectable quarter million units requested by ASUS and Acer, though we don't know about the other players.  However with the products launch resembling an attempt at flight by an under-powered, yet aerodynamically shaped chunk of metal these numbers have been reduced to under 200,000.  DigiTimes predicts that this time next year the Ultrabook might be significantly more attractive, not just because of Ivy Bridge but also because of the release of Windows 8 which seems almost custom built for the Ultrabook.

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"Asustek Computer and Acer have recently reduced their ultrabook orders from 250,000-300,000 units originally to 150,000-180,000 units by the end of 2011 due to the unsatisfactory sales during the initial month after their launch, according to sources from upstream ODMs.

Currently, Asustek is offering four Zenbook series ultrabook models in the retail channel, priced between NT$36,000-49,000 (US$1,194-1,625), while Acer is competing with its S3 series models with prices at NT$31,500-42,000. Because global notebook demand still has not yet seen any recovery, ultrabooks, which have a rather higher price range compared to mainstream models, did not see as strong sales as expected, causing Acer and Asustek to both drop their product orders by 40%."

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Source: DigiTimes

Ultrabook Prime; they're here

Subject: Mobile | October 25, 2011 - 12:32 AM |
Tagged: Zenbook UX311, Zenbook UX21, acer, ultrabook, asus, Aspire S Series

 Those of you who are strangers to the PC Perspective Podcast, or who do not remember the CULV may be disappointed by the retail release of the Ultrabook form factor from Intel.  Those of you who have watched us describe the woes of the manufacturers who needed to design and retail the Ultrabook for under $1000 probably already know the ending of this tale.  There are Acer models available at $900 and though they lack an ethernet port they certainly carry a citrus aura. ASUS seems to have put together a slightly better version with a fair choice of ports available, though with more dongles required than necessary (>0),  but still too many sacrifices have been made for an aluminium clad ultra-thin form factor.  Both companies produce better notebooks at a much lower price if you are willing to squeeze in a few extra milimetres.

 

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"You know a product is a dog when it is available widely in stores long before reviewers get sent some. Ultrabooks are no exception, the only thing they have is hype and consumer ignorance."

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Source: SemiAccurate