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Acer takes on HP in home servers

Acer joins HP in being one of only two major PC companies to offer Windows Home Server in the U.S. Acer matches HP on price and many specs.

Acer easyStore Home Server

Acer plans to unveil its first home server for the U.S. market on Thursday, called the Acer Aspire easyStore Home Server.

The server is intended for home use as well as small businesses that have a need for networking multiple PCs. The easyStore will run Microsoft Windows Home Server. It enables users to access files, including photos, videos, and documents on any other computer connected to the network, and creates an image-based backup of each PC daily.

The home sever is an 8x7x7 inch shiny black box, powered by Intel's Atom processor 230 and 2GB of DDR2 memory. There is a 1TB hard drive as well as three bays for swappable hard drives. Together, the easyStore can hold up to 7TB of data. There are also five USB ports, one eSATA port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The total price is $399.

Acer follows HP into the consumer home server market. Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP recently refreshed its MediaSmart server, and Acer's server has very similar specifications, including running Windows Home Server.

Microsoft announced its Windows Home Server product at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, but has struggled to get strong backing from big-name computer makers other than HP. It also had to grapple with a well-publicized glitch that could lead to data loss under certain circumstances. It fixed that issue and added additional features with a"Power Pack 1" update last July.

Home servers in general have been a tough sell. Microsoft resorted to a mock children's book last year to explain why such a device is necessary in a home.

But Acer is diving in. This is part of Acer's effort to expand its market share by offering more products besides Netbooks, notebooks, and desktops in the U.S. Acer already sells the third most computers in the world after HP and Dell, and much of that is due to its success with low-cost laptop sales, and its acquisition of Gateway in 2007. Earlier this year the Taiwanese company also dipped its toe in the smartphone waters.