Acer held a press conference in New York today to show its dual-screen Iconia laptop PC and three Android tablets.
Iconia is unusual in having two touch screens: one acts as a display and the other provides a keyboard or other type of controller, though it can also be used as a display screen. It's not a unique concept: OLPC floated the idea for the XO-2 in 2008, enTourage showed the Edge at CES 2010 in January, and Toshiba followed up this summer with its latest Libretto W100. Both Acer's Taiwanese rivals, Acer and MSI, have also designed dual-screen systems. How practical the idea is in real life remains to be seen. The one thing we can be sure of is that two screens are going to run your batteries down a lot faster than one.
The Iconia is a high-spec device rather than a notebook or e-reader. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory, a 640GB hard drive and Windows 7 Home Premium. Where Dell has Stage software for touch control, Acer has developed its own system, a kind of virtual jog-dial called Acer Ring. The Iconia is expected to go on sale in the UK on January 15 at £1,499.
Acer's Android tablets will come in three sizes with 4.8 inch, 7 inch and 10.1 inch screens. The baby of the family will be a mobile phone/tablet like the Dell Streak, and will have a screen resolution of 1024 x 480 pixels. Both the larger models will display 1280 x 800 pixels. They're all expected to appear next year running (sooner or later) Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb.
Acer is also planning to release a 10 inch tablet running Microsoft Windows 7 in February.
Finally, Acer is setting up its own app store, called Alive, to market software for its smartphones, tablets, netbooks and notebooks. It may be available to some users in the UK and Italy next month, before full availability in the first quarter of next year.
Acer is the world's second largest supplier of PCs by number of units, ahead of Dell and behind Hewlett-Packard. If it's popular, Alive could drive a lot of sales.