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10/11/2012
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Acer's Very Touchy Windows 8 Ultrabook

Aspire M5-481PT Windows 8 tablet lets you tap and swipe your way through documents using up to ten touchpoints.

Acer Aspire 481
Acer Aspire M5-481PT

Acer on Thursday introduced one of the first Ultrabooks to take full advantage of Windows 8's ability to handle as many touch points as humans have fingers.

The Aspire M5-481PT features a 14-inch display that can receive input from up to ten touch points, letting users efficiently tap, swipe, and zoom their way through apps and documents, using both hands if they choose.

The M5-481PT also packs an Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost 2.0, a 500GB disk drive, and a 20GB solid state drive. And, according to Acer, the device can operate in battery mode for up to eight hours--a feature that should appeal to road warriors.

"Many consumers desire the mobility of an Ultrabook, but still require the larger displays, optical drives, all-day battery life and value offered in a more mainstream notebook PC," said Scott Lederman, VP of retail sales for Acer America, in a statement. "The Aspire M5 series delivers that perfect combination of portability and performance for mainstream consumers."

[ Microsoft will release two versions of its new OS. See Windows 8, RT Confusion: Can Microsoft Beat It? ]

Like many other Windows 8 systems, the M5-481PT, along with its non-touch cousin, the Aspire M5-581IT, goes on sale Oct. 26. There's just one catch for consumers who want to get their hands on one--they'll have to get it through Best Buy, where it will be sold exclusively. The Aspire M5-481PT starts at $799.

The M5-581IT, which features a 15.6-inch display, starts at $699.

Acer is just one of a number of PC makers planning to launch a slew of new devices to coincide with Windows 8's launch. Lenovo, which this week overtook Hewlett-Packard as the world's number one computer builder, plans to introduce laptops and tablets that run the new OS. HP, Dell, and several other vendors also will launch Win8 systems later this month.

Windows 8 represents the most radical redesign of Windows since Windows 95, which introduced familiar features like the Start button and Task Bar. In Windows 8, Start is replaced by a home screen featuring Live Tiles, from which users can access apps, information services, and documents.

Microsoft plans to formally release Windows 8 at a high-profile event in New York City on Oct. 26. It will promote the new operating system through, among other things, seasonal pop-up stores in high-profile locations like New York City's Times Square and the Shops at North Bridge in Chicago, as well as 32 other locations in North America.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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