New York (NY) – Design, of course, is always a matter of taste but if you like to stand out and enjoy the interest and attention a MacBook Air is sure to deliver, you typically will have to shell out extra bucks for that privilege. That could change somewhat with Acer’s new Gemstone notebooks, which incorporate lots of unusual design details, but remain relatively affordable: Starting at around $900, the system scales from a basic multimedia notebook to a capable high-definition machine with a 1200p display and Blu-ray support.
The premium notebook market isn’t a particularly new game for Acer. The Ferrari edition is still part of the company’s product portfolio, but this product always had a limited reach. Now that the company has grown into the third largest PC manufacturer worldwide, behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell, it was just a matter of time until the company would show a much broader effort to compete with products such as Dell’s XPS laptops.
The Gemstone series appears to be that effort, but while Dell’s XPS series is much more targeted at enthusiasts and gaming, the new Aspire 6920G and 8920G are clearly aimed to make video and audio much more enjoyable on a portable computer. The 6920G comes with 16” displays that can run at a resolution of either 1366×768 or 1920×1200 pixels (it is actually the first 1200p 16” display we have heard of in a mass market notebook), an 8x DVD or a 1x Blu-ray drive, up to 320 GB hard drive storage, Intel Core 2 Duo processors and Nvidia’s 9500GS graphics chip (with 512 MB memory and up to 768 MB of additional shared system memory). Also included is the usual array of wireless connectivity and a HDMI interface. The upgrade to the 18.4” 8920G will add a second hard drive option (for up to 640 GB) and a 2x Blu-ray drive.
Depending on the configurations, which have not been announced, the notebooks will top out at around $2000. Shipments should start sometime in April.
What makes both models stand out in the crowd are a design elements as well as a touch-sensitive control panel on the left side of the keyboard. Acer said that the Aspire Gemstone notebooks come with a multi-layered, shimmering 3D finish, contrasting textures, a blue, black and silver color scheme as well as interior and exterior lighting effects. The “holographic 3D” cover integrates a backlit Acer logo, which “sparkles with varying gradations of black and blue when viewed from different angles,” the manufacturer said.
Next to the keyboard, Acer has integrated the “CineDash” media console which lights up in bright blue colors when the notebook is turned on and allows users to control all major media playback functions. Acer said that the notebooks also integrate Dolby Home Theater technology, including CineSurround, Tuba CineBass booster, and True5.1 output.