Acer's Switch 10 puts a new spin on hybrid design
The company also shows off what it says is the world's fastest Chromebook
IDG News Service - Acer has given a fresh look to detachable hybrids with its magnetic Aspire Switch 10 tablet, which it showed off at an event Tuesday, where it also demonstrated what it says is the fastest Chromebook yet.
The Switch 10 is primarily a 10.1-inch tablet, but it can magnetically latch on to a keyboard base to become a laptop. A snap hinge and two magnets are used to place the tablet on the base in the opposite direction, what Acer calls "display mode."
Company executives at a press event in New York also showed off the first Chromebook with Intel's Core i3 processor -- Chromebooks are Acer's most popular PCs. Most Chromebooks come with Intel's slower Celeron 2955U processor.
The Switch 10 and Chromebook were announced along with four laptops, two low-cost Android tablets and multiple all-in-one PCs. The products will be on sale for the back-to-school season in the U.S. and Canada, said Jason Chen, CEO of Acer, during the event.
The magnetic snap-on of Switch 10 is more flexible than other detachable hybrids, which mainly latch on to a base. Acer's technology draws from the magnetic snap-on soft keyboard that is optional with Microsoft's Surface tablet, which needs an attached kickstand to be truly secured. Lenovo sells "multi-mode" Flex and Yoga hybrids, but the display is hardwired to the keyboard base in those models.
The Switch 10 will be available in the U.S. and Canada starting at US$379.99. The tablet runs on an Intel Atom Z3745 processor, code-named Bay Trail. The tablet runs Windows 8.1, and an optional keyboard with more storage will be sold by Acer.
Acer has struggled in the PC market and is trying to revitalize its business under Chen, who became CEO in December following the abrupt resignation of Jim Wong, the former president who was to be the next CEO. Acer's worldwide PC shipments dropped to 5 million units during the first quarter this year, down 20.2 percent from the same quarter a year ago, according to IDC.
With the PC market weakening, Acer is also looking to smartphones, tablets and the "Internet of Things" for growth, Chen said.
Acer's new Aspire E 11 non-touch and V 11 touchscreen laptops also have Bay Trail chips. The E 11 starts at $299.99 and the V 11 at $369.99. Both have 11.6-inch screens.
For small-screen laptops, the PCs pack quite a punch, with up to 1TB of storage and 8GB of RAM. The laptops, which are 21-mm thick, come with quad-core Pentium or Celeron processors. They will ship in June.
The faster Aspire E 14 (14-inch screen) and E 15 (15-inch screen) laptops, also announced Tuesday, are available in touch or non-touch versions, with 720p or full 1080p screens. The laptops provide seven hours of battery life and are for productivity, entertainment, gaming and Internet use.
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