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Acer Challenges Rivals With Larger Netbook

The new system comes with an 11.6-inch high-definition, LED-backlit wide screen and Intel Atom processor.
Acer Aspire One A0751h
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Acer Aspire One A0751h

Acer on Monday introduced its first 11.6-inch netbook, challenging rivals with a low-cost ultraportable that doesn't have the cramped keyboard of smaller models.

The Aspire One A0751h is the latest example of how computer makers are pushing the size and features of netbooks to take advantage of the only segment of the PC market that continues to grow, despite the economic recession. While most models of the mini-laptops have screens 10 inches or less, Acer's latest system is large enough to sport a full-size keyboard.

In introducing the A0751h, Acer has not touched the biggest enticement of netbooks in the bad economy -- price. The new system with its 11.6-inch high-definition, LED-backlit wide screen and Intel Atom processor has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $350.

Acer leads the netbook market, accounting for 30.5% of all units shipped worldwide in the first quarter of this year, according to DisplaySearch. Acer shipped twice as many netbooks as No. 2 seller Asustek. All major computer makers sell netbooks, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo.

Nearly a fifth of all laptops sold in the first quarter were netbooks. In the past, the category was loosely defined as mini-laptops with screens 10 inches or less and selling for less than $500. The systems in general run a full operating system, typically Windows XP or Linux, and are optimized for Web surfing and other basic computing tasks.

Today, however, computer makers are pushing the systems closer to the level of more mainstream laptops. While Intel's low-cost Atom processor, which is used in most netbooks, is not as powerful as the chips used in mainstream system, it's good enough for many cash-strapped consumers.

The Acer Aspire One A0751h comes with Wi-Fi support and is available with a six-cell battery for up to eight hours of power. Buyers can choose between an Intel Atom N270 or Atom Z520 processor. The A0751h comes with 1 GB of memory, a 160-GB hard drive, and Windows XP Home edition. The sapphire-blue system weighs 2.75 pounds.

Along with the A0751h, Acer debuted the Aspire One A0D250, which has a 10.1-inch display more typical for netbooks. The system comes with the same starting memory, hard drive, and operating system as its bigger cousin, but is only available with an Atom N270 processor. The ruby-red system also comes with Wi-Fi support, weighs 2.44 pounds, and has a MSRP of $298.

While Acer has sold more netbooks than its rival, the low-priced products have not helped its bottom line. The company in April disappointed Wall Street by reporting that profits fell 31% in the first quarter to $60 million as revenue dropped 6.5% to $3.5 billion. The company also lowered its 2009 forecast for netbook shipments to between 10 million and 12 million from its previous expectation of 12 million to 15 million.

Analysts have warned that if netbooks become too powerful and with too many features beyond Web browsing, they could cannibalize sales of mainstream laptops, which carry higher profit margins for computer makers.


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