Acer is joining the crowd jostling in the mini-laptop market.
The company has announced the Aspire one, a small form-factor, ultra-portable computer, designed to use Intel's new Atom N270 chip, also unveiled Tuesday at Computex.
Acer's new computer, which comes with 512MB or 1GB of RAM, runs either Linpus Linux Lite or Windows XP Home software. It also comes with built-in 802.11b/g WiFi.
"The fact that HP and Dell, the big names in the market, are interested really shows the potential of the market," said Jean Zhu, a spokeswoman for Acer. "We definitely expect the market to double this year."
Acer isn't alone in betting on the market for new ultra-portable computers - also known as the netbooks. Intel is giving its potential growth a lot of weight.
""We see a lot of demand for more affordable products," Chris Tulley, a spokesman for Intel, said earlier this week. Noting that the majority of households in emerging markets have no PCs, and that the majority of households in mature markets have one PC, "We see an opportunity to have more devices per household and potentially one device per person," he said.
A netbook or ultra-portable laptop is a relatively inexpensive, small form-factor laptop designed for basic applications like web surfing, e-mail and writing. A nettop is similar, except it's in a desktop package. Both are designed to use less power than their traditional counterparts but aren't powerful enough for serious power users or gamers.
Acer's Aspire one laptop measures 9.8 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches. The screen is 8.9 inches measured diagonally and the keyboard comes in at 89 percent of the full length of the computer. "We wanted to make sure our keyboard is comfortable enough for people to type," said Zhu. "We were very conscious that it's a good user experience."
Intel's Tulley said "many" companies like Acer are in the process of developing ultra-portable devices based on the new Atom chips.
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