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New Acer Aspire Ethos laptops add detachable wireless touch-pad remotes, high-end specs

Acer's bold new line of Ethos media laptops features a unique wireless touchpad remote and plenty of upscale specs.

The Acer Aspire Ethos AS5951G: wild docking touch pad.
The Acer Aspire Ethos AS5951G: wild docking touch pad.

Laptop news keeps coming this week, and Acer's latest is a funky one indeed. The newly-announced Acer Aspire Ethos is a new laptop line that's aimed squarely at the high-end over-$1000 market, with a very unique twist: its touch pad detaches and becomes a wireless remote.

That's right: a remote. The design's enough to mildly surprise even the most jaded laptop expert. While the rest of the Ethos chassis is downright staid, that wide multitouch pad's transformation into a separately functioning wireless remote complete with LED-backlit controls might qualify as one of the most innovative ideas in laptops this year.

The Ethos removable touchpad up close.
The Ethos removable touchpad up close. Acer

Basically, the use case for the touch-pad remote would be when the Ethos is plugged into an HDTV as a home media device. We've used our home laptops this way before, but not recently thanks to wireless video tech like Intel Wireless Display. Still, it's a clever if unnecessary gimmick. It actually partially fulfills a fantasy we've privately been dreaming up for years: having a laptop that uses a touch-screen smartphone as its removable touch pad. The Ethos comes close to that concept.

The rest of the Ethos line is decidedly upscale and very well configured: two models will be available in the U.S., a 15-inch AS5951G and 18.4-inch AS8951G, starting at $1,399 and $1,599, respectively. At those prices, both will include quad-core second-gen 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM CPUs, Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics with 2GB of memory, edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass-covered displays, a 750GB, 5,400rpm hard drive, and a 4x Blu-ray drive, as well as Dolby-tuned stereo speakers and a bottom subwoofer. The 18-inch version will have a 1,920x1,080-pixel display and 8GB of RAM, while the 15-incher has a 1,366x768-pixel display and 6GB of RAM.

Both the Ethos AS8951G and AS5951G are available starting today. Regardless how you feel about the Ethos' quirky touch pad, its specs alone bear consideration. We've certainly seen our fair share of Acer laptop oddities, but the Ethos looks to have an honest core.