Acer: Technology not ready for ultramobile PC

Battery life, other technology not up to the task

HANOVER, Germany - Technology has yet to reach the level required for ultramobile PCs to take off with consumers, according to Acer Inc.'s president, Gianfranco Lanci.

"The technology available today is still not in our opinion what the customer needs," Lanci told reporters at the annual CeBIT trade show here.

Launched last year, the ultramobile PC is the brainchild of Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. and billed as a new type of device, different from both notebook PCs and PDAs. Ultramobile PCs are distinctive for their small, book-like size and touchscreen LCD monitors.

Perhaps the best known ultramobile PC is Samsung Electronics Co.'s Q1, introduced last year. While the Q1 has generated copious amounts of press coverage for Samsung in recent months, sales have fallen short of the company's target, with less than 100,000 units sold over the past year.

Samsung has higher hopes for the Q1 Ultra, a successor to the Q1 unveiled this week. Over the next year, the company is hoping to sell up to 300,000 of these devices, which include an improved screen, a more powerful processor and longer battery life.

For now, Acer is holding off on introducing an ultramobile PC, waiting for advances in areas such as battery life. "If you think about the ultramobile PC, you need first of all battery life that is like a telephone. With a telephone, you have 12 or 15 hours of battery life without a problem," Lanci said.

"We need to wait another 18 months or 24 months before this is ready," he said.

Graphics also have to be improved. The graphics capabilities of ultramobile PCs have to match what's available with other products, Lanci said. "You have very good graphics on the notebooks, but you also need very good graphics on the ultramobile PC," he said.

A third area that needs improvement is wireless connectivity. While 3G networks offer Internet connections, service charges are still too expensive, Lanci said. "We also need to think about connectivity -- that can be 3G or WiMax, when WiMax is available. It must be available, but at an affordable price. Otherwise, people won't use it," he said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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