Following last month’s report in Computer Business Review, a sister publication of Network Times, we are taking a look at some of the products Acer offers following its decision to focus on the consumer and professional markets.
The Acer Global Press Conference held in Madrid, Spain, was an opportunity for the company to highlight its two new product ranges aimed at the consumer and professional markets, as well as introduce new products in areas Acer is not well known in, like storage.
For the professional market, the Acer TravelMate has been tailored to the needs of the business user. The TravelMate design conveys the image of a solid, protective and productive device. It is protected by a magnesium-alloy case, 20 times more resistant than plastic, but much lighter, which improves portability and maximises security.
The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) also facilitates protection against unauthorised access to the notebook. TPM is a utility to securely create and manage personal encryption keys that let the user add a digital signature to files, encrypt and decrypt documents while simultaneously checking data or signal encryption. User identity controls are facilitated by the Acer Bio-Protection digital imprint reading solution that supports Pre-Boot Authentication (PBA), one of the most secure control programs for mobile platforms and Acer FingerLaunch, offering a secure way to launch programs or authenticated documents with a simple touch.
TravelMate TPM is also supported by Acer eDataSecurity Management and by the Acer SmartCard Security solution, which integrates Acer Platinum Secret software able to guarantee data encryption/decryption in a single click. Physical protection is managed through DASP (disk anti-shock protection) technology, which combines hardware and software solutions to protect the notebook hard disk from hits and falls: Acer DASP, a special material plate able to absorb hits and insulate the hard disk, helps prevent the disk from breaking.
The professional range
The professional range starts with the TravelMate 4720 and TravelMate 5720 series, which are designed for the Soho and are intended for professional and small business users who use their notebooks for both work and recreation. They offer a balance between performance and reliability, manageability and connectivity, autonomy and security.
The TravelMate 6592 and TravelMate 6492 notebooks belong to the desktop replacement category and are intended for medium and large-sized corporations that want to replace their PCs with notebooks able to offer the same power, security and flexibility. In addition to traditional notebooks, ultra-portable notebooks with docking option like TravelMate 6292 are included in this group to meet various corporate user mobility needs.
The TravelMate series comes preinstalled with Microsoft Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows XP Professional Edition. Furthermore, additional software such as Acer Empowering Technology Acer GridVista, Acer Video Conference Manager; Microsoft Office Ready 2007, Adobe Reader, CyberLink Power DVD, NTI CD-Maker and Norton Internet Security are also installed.
Acer supports both AMD and Intel technologies in its TravelMate series.
The new Aspire notebook range is aimed at the consumer market and is designed around the Gemstone concept. The uniqueness of this range completely differentiates it from the professional range, not least of all due to the inclusion of CrystalBrite display technology, Dolby Home Theatre Virtual surround sound speakers (which really do work wonders when engrossed in a game) and the Arcade Deluxe multimedia suite.
Aspire notebooks are available from small and portable 12,1-inch units, through to 20-inch, not-quite-so-portable workhorses.
As an example of the consumer technology available, the Aspire 7520 and Aspire 5520 are powered with a choice of dual- or single-core AMD processors (Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile technology, Athlon 64 X2 dual-core mobile technology or Turion 64 mobile technology). They also sport Dolby Home Theatre surround sound. The high-fidelity sound effects can be fine-tuned via eAudio Management, a module of Acer's Empowering Technology that provides a single interface to manage the notebook's sound capability with specialised modes for movies, music and games.
For shared graphics, both notebooks are equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 7000M graphics card with up to 896 MB of TurboCache technology (256 MB of dedicated system memory, up to 640 MB of shared system memory), supporting Microsoft DirectX 9.
For dedicated graphics, both notebooks offer a choice of dedicated graphics cards: either NVidia GeForce 8400G with 256 MB VRAM and up to 1024 MB of Turbocache or NVidia GeForce 8600GS with 512 MB VRAM and up to 1280 MB of Turbocache, supporting Microsoft DirectX 9 and DirectX 10.
All Acer notebooks provide a 1-year international warranty, which can be extended to 3 years with the AcerAdvantage NewEdition also covering accidental damage.
Beyond the computer
Of course, Acer does more than produce laptops. In its PC range is offers the Veriton T, M and S professional desktop PC series which all feature Acer's LANScope 3.5 software suite that allows remote system and application management and maintenance via intranet, even when the system is off.
LANScope software provides remote control and remote problem solving, remote BIOS distribution, patch management and IT management that can automatically generate a detailed hardware and software configuration report. In addition, Intel vPro processor technology improves system manageability through remote asset inventory and diagnostics/repair utilities, greatly reducing service calls and system downtime.
The new Veriton series all deliver simplified security with:
* Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 ensures data security for system files, passwords and other information via high-level encryption and security key protection.
* Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) 3.0 allows for easy cataloguing and management of hardware/software assets, remote heal and repair of damaged or corrupted systems, and protection of systems from outside attack.
* Intel Virtualisation Technology (VT) provides hardware system enhancements to augment software-based virtualisation solutions, improving flexibility and efficiency.
* Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) ensures data security and system integrity through advanced isolation and encryption techniques.
* Acer Empowering Technology features new and improved tools that optimise the system and maximise productivity.
Added to the computing options from the company are LCD displays, again aimed at the consumer and professional markets and incorporating a host of technology from the company.
Moreover, Acer also caters for storage requirements. The current range of storage systems is divided in three ranges: solutions, entry-level products for the Soho and SME worlds, and enterprise-class solutions developed through Acer's partnership with Hitachi Data Systems. All solutions are designed to allow businesses to optimise their storage infrastructures, reducing total cost of ownership.
The Simple SAN kit and Acer Storage Centre offer the SMB a relatively simple and intuitive introduction to the world of storage consolidation and management.
Acer has also created a Simple SAN construction kit based on Windows Server 2003. Acer-Hitachi Simple SAN removes all the above obstacles with a factory prepared SAN. Furthermore, this solution guarantees interoperability between servers, the switch, the host bus adapter board and storage, which is fully integrated. Simple SAN fabric administration is further simplified by the use of a GUI and by the fact that it is fully operated through a Windows Server 2003 management console.
The solution includes a Fibre Channel QLogic 1400 switch, 2 HBA Fibre Channel QLogic QLA210 boards, an Acer-Hitachi WMS100 storage system with 1 GB cache memory and 5500 GB hard disks. It also includes all the SFP and wires required for SAN connection and QLogic SANsurfer Express software, which provides the previously mentioned GUI to manage the entire system.
With its recent purchase of Packard Bell and Gateway, Acer has solidified its position as number three in the global market, and is focused on climbing the ladder over time. The latest range of products it has delivered demonstrates its drive to not only match, but also beat its competitors with added-value software and services included with its systems.
Moreover, it has expanded beyond the PC and notebook market and is set on seeing the Acer brand on different products, such as storage solutions, that are as easy to install and use as a notebook - although whether this will be the case in storage remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the impression Acer's management team leaves is one of realistic confidence in themselves, their company and the technology they are able to provide.
Acer third in global PC market
Acer consolidated its third position in the global PC market during the third quarter of 2007 with a market share of 8,1%, according to the latest data from Gartner. The company also cemented its spot as the world’s second largest notebook vendor and stood out as the fastest growing PC vendor for the quarter.
According to Gartner, Acer outpaced the 14,4% growth of the global PC market by showing year-on-year growth of 58% for the quarter. Acer registered a growth rate of 54% for the quarter in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – two and half times the average growth rate of the PC market in the region. The company strengthened its leadership of the EMEA notebook sector with a 65,4% growth rate (3Q 2006 vs 3Q 2007) and a 23,6% market share and consolidated its second position in the total PC market.
Says Graham Braum, commercial manager at Acer South Africa: “The South African PC market experienced soft growth during the third quarter, due to factors such as the introduction of the National Credit Act and rising interest rates. However, the company expects to see growth pick up as businesses start to replace ageing PCs and notebooks, and as consumers invest in new notebooks.”
Braum notes that the top three PC brands are accounting for a growing share of the global PC market, with a combined market share of more than 40%. “This reflects the ongoing consolidation of the market as the major players try to achieve the economies of scale they need to compete effectively.”