Acer, already a major force in the notebook market, is now making a play for a greater share of the business desktop market with launch of its new Veriton GT range. Acer is hoping to attract the attention of buyers in small/medium-sized businesses, government departments and the education sector with a combination of appealing design, attractive pricing and a suite of management and security tools.
Available in tower, mini-tower or traditional desktop formats, the Veriton GT is an Intel-only range. Northwood-core Pentium 4 CPUs will be used initially, but Acer describes the platform as 'Prescott-ready'. The basic specifications include an attractive two-tone (black and silver) tool-free-access case, Pentium 4 processor, Intel's 865G chipset with integrated graphics, up to 4GB of DDR400 RAM and on-board gigabit Ethernet networking. The motherboards (MSI-made and Acer-branded) all have AGP slots, so you can upgrade the graphics if necessary.
No fewer than 8 USB 2.0 ports are present on all models, divided between front and rear -- the 7600GT tower model has a neat spring-up panel containing 4 ports at the top. Selected USB ports can be locked to prevent unauthorised data transfer -- the USBLock function is part of Acer's LANScope application, which additionally supports remote BIOS refresh and hardware monitoring. Other elements of Acer's desktop management solution include OBR 2.0, which can restore a PC to its factory settings or load a backup image either from a hidden partition on the machine or from the network. To make things even simpler, the Veriton GT systems have a tiny hardware button (like those seen on optical drives) that kicks off the on-board recovery process. Desktop Manager provides IT staff with remote access to system information, BIOS settings and asset numbers; a tool is also provided to transfer users' personal settings (wallpaper, favourites, contacts and so on) between PCs. Acer's security solution includes TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.1, which provides hardware-based protection for encryption and digital signature keys. Intrusion alarms activate when the chassis is opened, and when the system is disconnected from the LAN (even when it's turned off). All this should be of interest to business buyers – especially in companies without large IT departments. But the clincher could be the pricing: full details aren't available yet, but Acer says that an entry-level model featuring a 2.66GHz Pentium 4, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard disk and a DVD-ROM drive will be available for as little as £350.