At a press event in New York City on Friday, Acer announced new mobile products running Google Android and Microsoft Windows 8. The company showed off the $169 Aspire A1, which runs Android and is meant for one-handed use. The new Aspire P3 is a convertible Windows 8 Ultrabook that works as a tablet or laptop due to a unique hinged dock with keyboard.
The new A1 is targeted to budget-conscious shoppers. Similar to the HP Slate 7 at the same price, the A1 cuts corners that keeps it from using premium components. Acer is keeping costs down with a 1.2 GHz quad-core chip from MediaTek and includes only 8 GB of internal storage capacity. Customers can expand storage through a micro SD card or spend $50 more for a 16 GB model. The 7.9-inch display uses the same 1024 x 768 resolution of Apple’s iPad mini; it also has the same 4:3 aspect ratio.
Even with a lower range of specs, the A1 has all the features you’d expect in almost any useful Android tablet: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, a 5MP rear-facing camera that can capture 1080p video at 30fps, a front-facing camera, micro USB 2.0 and microHDMI ports. Acer says the battery is rated for seven hours of use, which is a little light for this category, but not awful either.
I’m more intrigued by the Aspire P3, partially because I liked the Acer Aspire W510 Windows 8 tablet. That was powered by an Intel Atom, but the new P3 has your choice of either an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor for improved performance. Of course, there’s a hit in battery life — I saw a good 12 hours from the Atom-based units; more with the keyboard dock — but Acer says six hours of run-time is possible. I expect that will rise a bit when the next-generation of Core chips, called Haswell, arrives in June.
The 3.06-pound Aspire P3 has an 11.6-inch IPS display with HD resolution. Instead of a traditional keyboard dock, the slate slides into a hinged case. That allows the screen to be propped up while also offering a standard chiclet keyboard. Unlike the dock of the W510, there’s no secondary battery in the P3 dock. Overall, the device looks like a large iPad in a keyboard case.
Acer says the price of the new P3 is $799.99 for the Core i3 model, which is available now.