Acer is a popular technology company. It ranks in the top five globally, and carries a fair amount of brand cachet – especially after it acquired competitive brands such as Gateway (which itself had recently acquired eMachines). They’ve made some nice looking machines, too, though we don’t often get to talk about something amazing happening with respect to their desktop lineup. That changes today with the introduction of the Acer Aspire 7600U and Acer Aspire 5600U.
Acer Aspire 5600U, Acer Aspire 7600U
The new all-in-one PCs are some of the best looking computers we’ve seen offered from any company. More to the point, however, is the fact that Acer managed to cook up a design for the new computers that is all their own. They don’t look like Dell’s all-in-ones, they don’t look like HP’s all-in-ones, they don’t look like ASUS’ all-in-ones, and they certain do not look like Apple’s iMac. They look like something from Acer, and that is a refreshingly good thing to say.
With a “frameless”, edge-to-edge design and silvery metal stand, the new PCs look like something out of some 60s retro-futuristic fantasy; they wouldn’t be out of place on a reimagined 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t say that to mock them, either; the effect is cool. With the monolithic glass coming down to serve as the front part of the stand, the new Aspire 7600U and 5600U keep an extremely thin profile.
Both the display and the PC come in at under an inch and a half thick – meaning that you’ll be focused on the content, not the giant computer taking up space in your living room or office.
Since both models can be equipped with an optional 10-finger capacitive touchscreen, Acer designed the displays to recline up to 80 degrees, which – as we’ve discussed in other articles – helps to avoid the hand and arm fatigue that accompany extended vertical touchscreen use.
The Aspire 5600U will come with a 23-inch, 1080p display, while the 7600U ups that to 27 inches – but, regrettably, keeps the same resolution. That might make the 7600U a tough sell against Dell’s XPS One 27, which matches the 27-inch touchscreen technology and raises the resolution to an iMac-equivalent 2560×1440.
Acer does at least include a VESA-standard mounting kit in the box with the new Aspires, thinking that customers may wish to mount the PCs to a wall.
Inside of the Aspire 5600U is (up to) an Intel Core i5-3120M CPU running at 3.1GHz, a maximum of 8GB of memory, optional Blu-ray drive, and Intel’s HD 4000 integrated graphics. The Aspire 7600U unsurprisingly kicks things up a notch – it keeps the same CPU and RAM options, but adds in discrete graphics in the form of NVIDIA’s GeForce GT640M, and ships with a Blu-ray drive as standard.
It’s worth pointing out that, like many all-in-ones, the new Aspires use mobile components in order to keep things as thin as possible. Fortunately, mobile technology has gotten so good these days that that really isn’t much of a criticism.t
Both models also feature both HDMI in and out ports, meaning they can pinch hit as replacement displays for your primary or secondary home theater systems. Acer also makes their “Instant-On” technology an option on each one, incorporating flash memory to reduce wake times to just one and a half seconds.
The spec sheets rounds out with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as unspecified Bluetooth, two USB 3.0 ports, up to a terabyte of storage space, and either three or four USB 2.0 ports, depending on the model. A matching wireless keyboard and mouse set is also included in the box.
Acer says that the more affordable Aspire 5600U will be shipping on October 26th (which, coincidentally, is the launch date of Windows 8) with a starting MSRP of $999.99. The touch-enabled version will sell on the same date, starting at $1,149. If you’re looking to snag the more expansive – and expensive – Aspire 7600U, you’re going to have to wait another month. It’ll hit the U.S. in “late November” with prices starting $1,899 (this includes both the 10-finger multitouch screen and the standard Blu-ray player).
Acer Aspire ME Desktop, Acer Aspire XC Desktop
While today’s all-in-one announcement may have stolen the show, it’s far from the only product the company wants to show off. Acer updated its traditional desktop lines for the upcoming Windows 8 launch, too, with all new Aspire ME micro towers and Aspire XC small form factor PCs.
You can see a lot of the Gateway ID in these new desktops – some of our favorite features from that brand are here, including a recessed top layer with a non-slip surface and USB ports, perfect for charging smartphones and other mobile devices. There’s also an extruding front at the top, which provides easy access to commonly used expansion slots, like the front USB ports and memory card reader.
Both are quite attractive as basic desktops go, even if they can’t quite match the display of the new AiOs.
The Aspire ME is Acer’s option for users that need the kind of power and expandability that only desktop PCs can provide – they come standard with Intel Core i5 or Core i7 quad-core CPUs, up to 10GB of DDR3 memory (16GB max), up to 2TB of hard drive space and either integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics or unnamed discrete GPUs. This desktop also features an open PCI-E x16 slot (which presumably gets filled if you order a model with discrete graphics) and two open PCI-E x1 slots.
Surprisingly, this machine comes equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, which means you’ll be able to hook up your snazzy new Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. There’s also HDMI and VGA ports, letting you use at least two displays out of the box. The ME also includes four USB 3.0 ports and eight USB 2.0 ports.
The Aspire XC packs in a slice of the same features, but in a much smaller physical package. This small form factor PC can be equipped with up to an Intel Core i3-2130 CPU and 6GB of memory. You can order the XC with a terabyte of hard drive space and 8x USB 2.0 ports – there doesn’t seem to be any USB 3.0 love on this desktop.
Both desktops ship with the company’s AcerCloud service, which lets you share and sync files between any and all of your Acer computers.
Acer’s new Aspire ME and XC desktops ship with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. The well-equipped Aspire ME line starts at $649.99, while its little brother, the Aspire XC, starts at a very reasonable $399.99. Each unit will be available in the U.S. starting on October 26th.