By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated October 16, 2012.
The coming Windows 8 release is generating a variety of form factors, as computer makers try to take advantage of the new Microsoft operating system's advantages, notably touch. On Monday, Acer released two of its entries in this contest -- all-in-one desktops that are maximized for touch.
The new models feature large displays that, along with wireless mouse and keyboard, are the entire computer. They offer advanced 10-point capacitive touch technology with enhanced gesture recognition, in support of humans' 10 fingers. The slim -- less than 1.4 inches -- high-definition screens are available in 27- and 23-inch sizes, and the display can recline up to 80 degrees for ergonomic variety.
'No Compromise Solution'
A semi-transparent enclosure for the screen houses the hard drive, optical drive and screen, and a VESA mount kit allows an owner to mount the display on the wall. The displays sport 1920x1080 resolution, a 5-millisecond response time and discrete graphics, while Real Sound Lab's CONEQ sound tech offers virtual surround sound.
Frank Chang, Acer America's director of desktop product management, said in a statement that the new products, the 27-inch Aspire 7600U and 23-inch 5600U series, offer "a no-compromise solution for those wanting the power of a desktop in a sleek and elegant chassis."
The 7600U features an Intel Core i5 3210M processor running at 3.1 GHz with 8 GB of memory, discrete Nvidia GT640M graphics, a combo Blu-ray drive/DVD player and two HDMI inputs. The 5600U has an Intel Core i5 3210M processor at 3.1 GHz, up to 8 GB of memory, a SuperMulti optical drive and one HDMI input.
Chang added that the "blend of Windows 8, capacitive touch technology, instant resume functionality and fast processing deliver a superb computing experience" for consumers or students.
Tired Hand Issue?
Acer's Instant On is offered as an option, providing instant-resume functionality in 1.5 seconds. The company said this makes the computer nearly as fast to turn on as a TV.
All-in-ones are joining such form factors as Lenovo's hybrid, convertible tablet/laptop computers as solutions that attempt to take advantage of the touch-with-traditional interface characteristic of Windows 8. But, as the various designs attempt to offer something that satisfies Windows' new potential, there is a looming question: are they form factors that will satisfy buyers?
We asked Michael Gartenberg, research director for Gartner, about whether he expected buyers would welcome Windows 8 all-in-ones.
He noted that various emerging Windows 8 form factors are "designed for touch, but also need to accommodate interaction via mouse and keyboard," if only for applications using the traditional Windows interface.
But, Gartenberg said, it's an open question if a single large screen is all that useful as an everyday computer because, "after awhile, your hand starts to get tired." He pointed out that potential buyers of all-in-ones "aren't going to get onboard with this form factor unless computer makers can tell them not only how this is different, but why it is better."