Acer introduces $169 Android tablet

Acer raises the stakes in the tablet price wars

Acer has placed its bet in the tablet wars on low pricing, introducing a $US169 Android tablet with a 7.9-inch screen.

The Iconia A1 is full-featured, has an "accessible" price and will raise the stakes in the tablet wars, said Jim Wong, president of Acer, during a speech at a press event in New York on Friday morning.

The tablet offers more than eight hours of battery life and an IPS display, also found on iPads. The tablet also has a quad-core processor, which is likely based on an ARM design. Shipment information for the product was not immediately available.

With the Iconia A1, Acer is entering a highly competitive low-cost tablet market, with vendors lowering prices as a way to gain market share. Acer's new tablet comes just a few days after Hewlett-Packard started shipped the $US169.99 Slate 7, which has a 7-inch screen and dual-core processor, but misses many basic features like GPS. Acer's tablet has a larger screen and an equivalent processor to Google's Nexus 7, which has a 7-inch screen and the latest version of Android.

At the event, Acer also introduced new laptops, brought in New York-based artists and musicians to help showcase the products.

Acer introduced the Aspire R7 hybrid, which has a screen that can be folded in a variety of ways. The 15.6-inch screen hinge can extend up in the same plane as the keyboard like an all-in-one touch desktop. The hybrid device's screen can also be flipped around and laid flat over a keyboard for the device to become a tablet. The product will become available worldwide on May 14 through retail channel partners in the U.S. and worldwide. Pricing was not immediately available.

Acer also introduced the P3 hybrid ultrabook, which functions as a tablet and ultrabook. The device's screen can be pulled out from a keyboard to operate independently as a tablet. The P3 will run on Intel's processors.

Acer's PC shipments have been falling over the last few quarters, and it is now the fourth largest PC maker in the world.

The company's PC market share started tumbling as people moved to tablets and left behind netbooks, a market in which Acer was a leader.

"The last couple of years we saw this won't carry us to the next stage," said Wong. The company is ready to move into a new era of tablets and hybrids, he added.

Acer projects second-quarter sales of Windows 8 laptops and hybrids to be double that of first quarter, said JT Wang, Acer's chairman and CEO. There is growing acceptance of Windows 8 devices that can function as laptops and tablets with touch capabilities and keyboards, he said.

Wang took a shot at Apple's iOS, saying consumers will reject being controlled by operating systems and devices.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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