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Thursday, April 07, 2011, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Acer's Iconia Touchbook takes on iPad, MacBook Air using Windows 7

The world's second largest PC maker Acer aimed at tapping into enthusiasm surrounding the iPad and MacBook Air with Iconia, its keyboard free, mobile touchscreen Windows PC notebook. The downside is that the product costs more than twice as much as the iPad and eats up a battery in less than three hours.

As profiled by Bloomberg, Acer's Iconia 6120 Touchbook runs Windows 7 using an Intel Core i5 CPU, packing the full power of a notebook.

Unlike a conventional notebook, it drops not just its optical drive but also its keyboard, resulting in a 14 inch tablet that users type on directly, similar to the iPad's glass surfaced virtual keyboard. The design won a top ten design award at its debut at the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The hybrid device is priced at $1199.99, weighs 6.2 pounds and has a conventional hard drive (640 GB) and packs 4GB of RAM. That makes it an expensive, albeit limited duty and highly specialized Windows PC notebook and a very expensive but ostensibly more powerful iPad alternative.

Also like the iPad (and Air), Acer's Touchbook uses a non-removable battery. However, Bloomberg notes that the machine's "biggest drawback is the battery. The two touch screens suck power like a vacuum cleaner, and even Acer’s claim of three hours on a full charge may be on the high side if you’ve got the screens set to bright and are connected to a Wi-Fi network."




Acer's hybrid Touchbook sits in stark contrast to Apple's offerings, which are clearly delineated between the very simple, multitouch iPad and its mobile MacBook Air, which shares iPad technologies and features but maintains a conventional keyboard, trackpad and non-touch display. The 13 inch MacBook Air also aims at light portability, weighing just 2.9 lbs (1.32kg), less than half the weight of the Acer Touchbook. Apple's Air notebook line now standardizes on SSD for storage, trading speed for overall capacity.

Acer unveiled a series of mobile devices running Android and Windows 7 last fall, after predicting that Apple's iPad would rapidly lose its overwhelmingly dominant position in the tablet market and shrink to just 20 percent share as it was forced to complete with platforms that are not "closed."

Acer's initially successful netbook initiative was crushed by the appearance of Apple's iPad last year, suddenly stalling the company's rapid growth in 2010. After announcing intentions to "overhaul operations" in response to Apple's impact on the PC market, the firm's chief executive Gianfranco Lanci resigned late last month.