We've seen netbooks such as the Dell Mini Inspiron 12 (R.I.P.) and Lenovo IdeaPad S12 in the guise of 12.1-inch ultraportables. Now Acer is trying the reverse--a notebook with the same display size as its Aspire One 751h netbook.
Rumors about an Acer 11.6-inch laptop have been swirling for weeks--under the name Timeline 1810t--but Acer has now posted the details on its U.S. site for an Aspire 1410. Like several netbooks on the market, the Aspire 1410 has an 11.6-inch display, but it uses an Intel ultra low-voltage (ULV) processor, rather than Atom, and runs Windows Vista.
There is a lot of overlap between the Aspire 1410 and the Aspire One 751h. Both have 11.6-inch displays with a resolution of 1366x768. The Aspire 1410 measures 11.2 by 8.0 by 0.9-1.2 inches and weighs 3.1 pounds; the Aspire One 751h netbook measures 11.2 by 7.8 by 1.0 inches and weighs 3 pounds.
Acer lists three different configurations corresponding to the blue, black and red versions of the Aspire 1410. But the basics specs are the same: 1.4GHz Intel Core2 Solo SU3500 processor, 2GB of memory, Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics, 250GB hard drive and Vista Home Premium. Sites that are taking pre-orders list prices ranging from $450 to $475. That is cheaper than some 12-inch netbooks, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 and Samsung NC20, but more than the Aspire One 751h, which costs about $350 with a 1.33GHz Atom Z520, 1GB of memory, Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics, 160GB hard drive and Windows XP.
These ULV-notebooks should be an attractive alternative to netbooks. But despite a big push by Intel--and generally positive reviews for the Acer Timeline series and MSI X-Slim series--they seem to be off to a slow start. Acer has lowered its sales targets for this category on notebooks for the remainder of 2009, according to DigiTimes, a news site based in Taiwan. AMD executives have said that the HP Pavilion dv2, a similar ultra-thin design which uses the Athlon Neo X2 processor, has so far fallen short of expectations as well.
It could be that most customers who choose a netbook really want a netbook, not a notebook. But it's too early to tell. Te back to school and holiday shopping seasons will be a better indicator of the demand for ULV laptops that bridge the gap between netbook and notebook.