Look Out Asus: Acer Joins the Linux Laptop Fray

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 09, 2008

If you've followed our recent coverage of Asus' success with its (primarily Linux-based) low-cost Eee PC laptops, and Hewlett Packard's Mini-Note, you know that Linux-based portables are seeing surprising success. Now, Acer--traditionally more of a hardware titan overseas than in the U.S.--is joining the fray with its new Aspire One Linux-based subnotebooks. Because of its distribution might, this could represent major competition for Asus, HP, and the OLPC project.

The Aspire One systems are small, lightweight ultra-mobile PCs and Acer is glomming onto the trend of referring to them as "netbooks." They will become available on the 10th of July.

The slick-looking systems, available in a series of colors, will offer Wi-Fi and 8GB solid state drives to begin with, running Intel Atom processors. (Asus has also moved to Intel processors.) That means buyers will have more choice with Asus than Acer, because Asus has expanded out to more drive choices and other options, but Acer will be directly competitive with Asus in pricing. Aspire One systems will start at under $400, and a Windows XP version with an 80GB drive is expected to follow the initial systems, for around $500.

Acer is positioning the Aspire One systems as "all-new communication devices designed to deliver continuous access to the Internet and a simplified wireless experience no matter where you are." The company expects to deliver 3G and WiMax versions later this year.

As I've written before, I don't view these systems as the primary laptops I would use. However, they're inexpensive and come with a raft of open source applications in most cases. For applications such as writing while on the move, or putting in various rooms of a house as browsing devices, they're great. Competition keeps ramping up here, with Asus predicting that its second quarter sales of Eee PCs will double over the first quarter's sales. I expect these to start coming in at even lower price points.