updated 04:10 pm EDT, Wed March 12, 2008
Acer Gemstone Blue
As promised, Acer on Wednesday launched a radical overhaul of its Aspire notebook line targeted at the high-end notebook market normally occupied by companies such as Apple and Sony. Nicknamed the Gemstone Blue, the new design centers around a deluxe media console known as the CineDash: the touch-sensitive control lets users navigate music, videos, and menus without having to resort to the trackpad. Each system also sports a unique "weave" finish and an advanced speaker system that generates virtual Dolby 5.1-channel surround, including a 10-watt subwoofer.
The two systems being released today are also the first notebooks anywhere to ship with a true 16:9 ratio display. Both the 16-inch Aspire 6920 and 18.4-inch Aspire 8920G can output at the same 1080p (1920x1080) resolution of Blu-ray or an HDTV tuner (options on both models) and are fast enough at 8ms to avoid the ghosting artifacts that surface on many notebook LCDs. Their color gamuts are also a full third richer than conventional notebooks, Acer claims. The Aspire 6920 has the option of a less costly 720p (1366x768) display.
Outside of screen differences, the systems are primarily separated by graphics and storage. The simpler 6920 is driven by NVIDIA's next-generation GeForce 9500M GS, while the larger 8920G steps up to a GeForce 9650 GS. Storage runs up to 320GB on the 16-inch system but can be doubled to 640GB on the larger model courtesy of a second hard drive bay. Either system comes with HDMI video output as standard, though only the 8920G has a VoIP phone that allows it to more naturally place calls through Skype or other services.
Despite the high-profile launch, Acer has not said which Core 2 Duo processors it will use or when it expects the new Aspires to ship, though past comments by the company have priced the systems between $1,900 and $2,200 and would have both ship in the spring.