Acer’s Computex press conference can be summed up in a single word: touch. Acer announced several new products including what it billed as the industry’s first 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, a 6-inch phablet and updates to its Aspire S3 and S7 laptops—all equipped with touchscreens. This comes on the heels of a recent event in New York where Acer announced several products with touchscreens including the unusual Aspire R7 15.6-inch convertible.
Acer CEO JT Wang said that Acer is squarely focused on developing the best tablets and touch-enabled laptops. “Users are becoming smarter and demand a significant improvement in the user experience,” he said. “If you don't do that, they won't buy.”
The biggest news was the Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet. Both Intel and Microsoft have talk extensively about the need for smaller, lower-priced Windows devices to compete with Apple's iPad Mini and inexpensive Android tablets. The Iconia W3-810 has an 8.1-inch display (1280x800), Intel’s 1.8GHz Atom Z2760 dual-core processor (Clover Trail), 2GB of memory, and either 32- or 64GB of storage. It also has a microSD slot for expansion as well as micro- HDMI and USB. Perhaps to emphasize the difference between a full Windows 8 tablet and existing small tablets, the Iconia W3 also comes with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 pre-installed and has an optional full-size Bluetooth keyboard. It weighs 500 grams and is only 11.4mm thick, but Acer said it has up to 8 hours of battery life. The Iconia W3-810 will be available in the second quarter starting at $379.
Acer also announced an even smaller “phablet,” the Liquid S1, with a 5.7-inch display (1280x720), MediaTek MT6589 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of memory and 8GB of storage. The S1 is largely a “pure” Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) device, but Acer has added its own Float Use Interface, which it claims helps with multi-tasking, as well as Float camera, maps, calculator and notes apps (a digital stylus is optional). The Liquid S1 supports dual SIM cards and will be available in Asia and Europe starting in the third quarter, but it doesn’t support 4G LTE and won’t be available in the U.S.
The Acer Aspire S7 was. The model I tested, the S7-391, has a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920x1080) touchscreen. The new model, the S7-392, adds an optional WQHD (2560x1440) touchscreen and Intel’s fourth-generation (Haswell) Core i5 and i7 processors, as well as up to 8GB of memory and either a 128- or 256GB SSD. The S7 retains the same basic design with Gorilla Glass 2 on the back of the display and an ultra-slim case (13mm) that weighs only 1.3 kilograms. Acer claims battery life with Haswell has increased 33 percent to as much as 7 hours. The S7-392 will be available in the third quarter (the 11-inch S7-191 has been discontinued).
The less-expensive Aspire S3 now has a similar design but it is thicker (18mm) and heavier (1.7 kilograms). The S3-392 can be configured with either a 720p or Full HS 13.3-inch display, fourth-generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processors, on-die or Nvidia discrete graphics, and either a hard drive or SSD. It will also begin shipping in the third quarter.