Acer has announced a new range of notebooks. Nothing particularly surprising about that -- notebooks are part of Acer's core business. But the particular notebooks in the Aspire 1700 range are unusual. For a start, they weigh more than 7kg (even the heaviest of existing notebooks don't usually exceed 4kg), and measure 38cm wide, 32cm deep and 5.5cm tall. That's large. Pictures don't get anywhere near giving an impression of the size. Here's one anyway.
The reason for the huge casing is that Acer has fitted a 17in. monitor capable of displaying resolutions up to 1,280 by 1,024 pixels. Only Apple, so far, has built a notebook with a 17in. display -- the 1GHz PowerBook G4, but that's considerably lighter. So what's the attraction of the gargantuan Aspire 1700? Acer thinks that consumers will like the Aspire 1700 because it provides desktop functionality in a computer that's portable if necessary, and which can be stowed away out of sight, but which still offers a good screen size. The company thinks that business users will like the fact that it can be carried into meeting rooms where its large screen will deliver presentations far better than a conventional notebook. Integrated 802.11b wireless networking will be available on some versions, which will further boost this aspect of its use. There is enough width in the casing to accommodate a number pad as well as a keyboard -- which is good, says Acer, for business users who need to do complex spreadsheet work. One thing Acer doesn't think the Aspire 1700 will be used for, not surprisingly, is computing when on the move. Carrying 7kg of notebook around is definitely not recommended, and even if you do feel like lugging it, Acer quotes a meagre 1.5 hours for the battery life. The Aspire 1700 series will come in several versions. Its (desktop-class) processor will be either a 2.6GHz or a 3GHz Intel Pentium 4. There will be a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, with DVD-R to come later. Hard drives will range from 80GB to 140GB. There is a choice of a floppy drive or a combination memory card reader. The wireless networking option we have already noted, while the sound system includes a sub-woofer. Connection options include two FireWire ports, four USB 2.0 connectors, S-Video, PS/2, serial and parallel connectors -- enough to accommodate both the latest hardware and older 'legacy' peripherals. The Aspire 1700 series will debut at £1,100 (ex. VAT) for the 2.6HGz/80GB HDD version. We'll post a full review within the next few weeks.