(Updated 11 pm PT June 3 with additional PCs and Intel processor specs)
The time has come for PC manufacturers to start unveiling new hardware in association with Intel's forthcoming fourth-gen Core i-series "Haswell" processors, and some are doing it earlier than others.
Acer, recently busy with its "Star Trek"-inspired Aspire R7 unveiling, has announced even more PC products: a new 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, a second slim S3 ultrabook to accompany the also-updated S7, and a refreshed Aspire Z3 all-in-one desktop PC. Some of them feature Intel's newest fourth-gen "Haswell" processors. Here's the brief news on each.
The Acer Iconia W3 (picture above), outed via leaks over the last couple of months, makes its official debut. It's billed as the first 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, and bears a passing resemblance to the recently announced Acer Iconia A1 7.9-inch Android tablet. It weighs 1.1 pounds and is 0.45-inch thick. Running off a current-gen Intel Atom Z2760 processor (Intel's next-gen Bay Trail Atom CPUs won't be available until later this year), the $379 tablet runs full Windows 8 and has a 1,280x800-pixel screen, 32GB or 64GB of SSD storage, 2-megapixel front and rear cameras, Micro-HDMI and Micro-USB ports, and a microSD card slot that supports up to 32GB at a time.
Acer's clearly angling for productivity on a shoestring -- the Iconia W3 comes with Microsoft Office preinstalled, and one of the press pics shows the W3 docked with an optional full-size Bluetooth keyboard. The W3 is available for pre-order in the U.S. starting June 4.
The Acer Aspire S3-392 ultrabook (above) borrows from the design of the superslim Aspire S7 released last year. Like the S7, it's also a 13.3-inch 1080p ultrabook, but goes more workhorse with Nvidia GeForce GT735M graphics and a larger non-SSD 1TB hard-drive option. U.S. availability or pricing hasn't been announced, but the S3 does have the latest fourth-gen Intel Core i-series Haswell CPUs (specific models unspecified).
Just like the S7, its display bends back 180 degrees -- but, instead of a Gorilla Glass back, the S3 is all aluminum. It's a bit heavier and thicker than the Aspire S7, at 1.65 kg (3.6 pounds) and 17.8 mm (0.7-inch). Other features include a fast sub-1-second wake-from-sleep mode.
The new Aspire S7-392 touch-screen ultrabook is also receiving a fourth-gen upgrade to newer Intel processors. Acer claims a 33 percent battery-life increase, thanks to new fourth-gen Core i5-4200U or Core i7-4500U processor options. The new S7 has 8GB of RAM and either a 128 or 256GB SSD. Other improvements including an optional 2,560x1,440-pixel-resolution display (same as on the Toshiba Kirabook and similar to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display) and a new "electroluminescent" backlit keyboard. The new Aspire S7-392 is still expensive, ranging from $1,399 to $1,699.
Acer also announced an update to its all-in-one desktop PC, the Aspire Z3. A 23-inch 1080p IPS display and built-in Harman Kardon speakers suggest a push for AV enthusiasts, or at least an attempt to keep pace in a competitive all-in-one PC market. It's not clear which Intel processors the new Z3s will have, but the Z3 should be available June 13.
Update, June 3: Now that Intel's second processor embargo has lifted, Acer has revealed additional details on other PCs getting new Haswell processor upgrades:
The 14-inch Acer Aspire V7-482PG-9884-U ultrabook has an Intel Core i7-4500U processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics with 4GB video memory, 12GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, and will be available as an Acer.com exclusive for $1,299.
The Acer Aspire V3-772G 17.3-inch gaming laptop has an Intel Core i7-4702MQ processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 760M graphics, up to 12GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, starting at $999.
Finally, the Acer Predator AG3-605-UR20 desktop has a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-4770 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 graphics with up to 32GB RAM and a 3TB hard drive, starting at $1,499.99.
None of these products looks to redefine the already fragmented Windows 8 landscape, but a few should offer some welcome updates.