Acer Announces Android-based Netbooks, Smartphones

By Naomi Graychase

June 02, 2009

The rumors are true: Acer has joined the Open Handset Alliance and will begin producing open source Android-based netbooks and smartphones as early as the 3Q09.

In advance of this week’s Computex in Taipei, which began Tuesday, Acer announced Monday that it has joined the Open Handset Alliance and that it will launch smartphones based on the open source Android platform by the end of 2009.

Acer followed Monday’s announcement with news on Tuesday morning that it will launch Acer Aspire One netbooks based on the Android platform, as well. In a statement, Acer said the netbooks would hit the market in advance of the smartphones and would be available 3Q09.

“Netbooks are designed to be compact in size and easy to connect to the Internet wherever you go,” said Jim Wong, president of IT Products Global Operation, Acer in a statement Tuesday. “The Android operating system offers incredibly fast wireless connection to the Internet; for this reason, Acer has decided to develop Android netbooks for added convenience to our customers.”

Acer believes that the free, open source mobile platform “will contribute significantly to the worldwide netbook market growth.” Acer will continue to manufacture systems built on Microsoft’s OS, but it says the majority of Acer netbooks will also offer Android in the future, enabling users to choose the best operating system for their needs.

With the move toward Android, Acer is wisely banking on the value-add that open source applications by third-party developers bring to end-users.

Other announcements

Acer also announced today the Aspire Timeline Series ($598-$899), a new line of ultraportable (3.5- to 5.3-pound) Windows Vista machines, which feature 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, either Intel Pentium, Intel Core Solo, or Intel Core 2 Duo ultra low voltage processors, an integrated Webcam, and 3GB or 4GB of memory. 

Available now, the new Acer Aspire Timeline Series includes numerous models and pricing configurations starting under $600 within the 13.3-inch AS3810, 14-inch AS4810, and 15.6-inch AS5810 lines.

The big selling point—and namesake—is its running time. Acer says the Timeline Series notebooks average eight hours of battery life. In some tests, Acer says one model achieved 9 hours and 48 minutes. In other words, the Timeline Series systems could last for a 9 to 5 workday or a coast-to-coast flight without needing a re-charge. Given that electricity is the amenity in highest demand for business travelers, its an attractive perk. The secret, says Acer, is in its combination of numerous low-power components, including ultra low-voltage processors, with a standard high-capacity 6-cell battery, allowing them to keep the design as small as possible.

A PowerSmart button located above the keyboard also allows users to activate advanced power savings settings to further extend battery life. And the Acer PowerSmart adapter senses when the notebook is unplugged and reduces energy supplies accordingly. As an extra touch, the adapter also stops pulling power from the wall outlet when the adapter is full, thus conserving energy even when the laptop is plugged in.

Rounding out Acer’s Computex announcements today was news that the Acer F900 smartphone is now available in some markets. The Wi-Fi-enabled quad-band Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone was first announced at Mobile World Congress in February. It features a Samsung SC3 6410, 533 MHz processor, 3.8” color display (480 x 800 pixels), built-in GPS, and integrated Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi.

Acer did not release an MSRP, but the device is selling for $575-780 unlocked online.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet. She has been covering personal technology since 1994. Follow her on Twitter (@WiFiPlanet).

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