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RealTime IT News

Acer's Centrino-Based Notebooks Dip Below a Grand

Acer is out with a new line of notebook PCs based on Intel's Centrino mobile technology, which are priced starting at $999.

The new Acer TravelMate290 series of notebooks will weigh close to 6.6 pounds, and include bays for CD burners and wireless connections to the Internet.

Currently, most Centrino-based notebook PCs cost upwards of $1200 and Acer's pricing is expected to put margin pressure on its rivals.

Acer's TravelMate 290Xi comes with a 1.3 GHz Intel Premium M 1.3G processor, a 14.1-inch screen, 128 MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and a CD-ROM drive all for $999. Models which include larger screens, CD burners and more memory are more expensive. All models in the Acer notebook PC line a 802.11b wireless LAN module for Wi-Fi access.

In a joint press release, Acer and CDW said they are "offering the world's first value-priced line of notebooks featuring Intel Centrino Mobile Technology."

Acer's TravelMate290XCi contains 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a DVD/CD-RW drive, a 4-cell battery and Microsoft Windows XP Pro. The TravelMat290 LCi is even more robuts with a 15-inch XGA TFT LCD display, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD/CD-RQ drive, an 8-cell battery, which allows for up to five hours of battery life per charging.

Other notebook PC manufacturers are getting behind Intel's Centrino mobile technology, but not at Acer's price points.

On July 24, Sony said its latest Centrino-based VAIO notebook will contain an integrated camera, widescreen format display and DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The VAIO PCG-TR1A notebook is no larger than a hardback novel "but performs like its larger counterparts," the company said in a press release.

The Sony mobile PC only weighs 3.1 pounds and has an Intel Pentium M processor running at 900 MHz and it also contains a built-in digital camera, which along with its 80211.b wireless connectivity features can allow for live web conferencing applications.

Sony said its new multimedia notebook PC will be available in August and will cost close to $2000.

As both low cost, and fully featured notebook PCs hit the market, there is an expectation that Wi-Fi will drive demand.

Gartner says it expects sales of Wi-Fi equipment to continue to grow, after spiking by 31 percent in 2002 to $2.1 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2001. Gartner has said it expects the Wi-Fi equipment market to grow to $3.9 billion by 2007. Gartner has also said it expects the number of public hot spots, or Wi-Fi access points, worldwide to grow from 20,000 last year to 150,000 by 2005. Gartners sees 75 million users of these hot spots by 2008.

In 2002, IDC says there were 3.1 million U.S. households utilizing wireless networks, and expects the number to double in 2003.

Intel has said it will spend $300 million as part of its strategy to promote Centrino and Wi-Fi technologies.

On Monday, FierceWireless issued a report saying Wi-Fi companies raised for than $1 billion in venture capital since the beginning of 2001.