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Acer deals new cards

Acer has strengthened its PC lines for the retail market with new home offerings and a multimedia power-user machine.

Acer has strengthened its PC lines for the retail market with new offerings for the home and small-offices/home-offices (SOHO), as well as a multimedia power-user machine, mirroring many recent consumer offerings from Compaq Computer.

The Aspire Personal Solution is aimed at entry-level home users and features IBM-manufactured Pentium-class processors based on a Cyrix chip design.

The Personal Solution comes with an integrated telephone handset, instant-on technology, and Internet access with five free hours per month for a year, coupled with a high-speed 33.6-kbps fax-modem, the company said.

Like Compaq, Acer is striving to make the PC as easy to use as a consumer electronics device and working to move up from its spot as eighth largest PC manufacturer in sales. The company has included a "Quick Start" feature, which allows the user to turn the computer on instantly--avoiding the tedious boot-up process--enabling the PC to send or receive information such as email or voice mail messages, even when the system is powered down.

In addition to the IBM-supplied P120, P150, and P166 Pentium-class processors, the machines feature 16MB of memory, 3D sound, hard drives of up to 2GB, and 6x and 8x CD-ROM drives.

Bundled software includes Microsoft's Windows 95, America Online, an Internet browser and service provider, a full-featured telephony suite, and the PointCast Network.

The estimated street prices range from $1,399 to $1,999. Acer is also offering an entry-level PC for $1,199 which comes with an IBM P100 processor, 16MB RAM, 28.8Kbps fax-modem, 1GB hard drive, 4x CD ROM drive, and 16-bit stereo with 3D sound.

The Acer Office Solution for SOHO users runs on 120-, 133-, l50-, and 166-MHz Pentium processors from Intel instead of IBM chips. It also has 16 to 24MB of RAM, as well as many of the hardware features offered on the home PC line, including a large-capacity hard drive, a fast CD-ROM drive, and an integrated telephone.

The Office Solution PCs include business software titles including Lotus SmartSuite 96, SoftKey's Multimedia MBA (a comprehensive reference and tutorial for conducting a home business), and Intuit's Quicken SE '96. The estimated retail prices range from $1,499 to $2,199.

Finally, Acer is offering a power user's dream machine. It comes with 166- and 200-MHz Pentium processors, 24MB to 32MB of RAM, a 3.5GB hard drive, full-duplex speakerphone, a 33.6-kbps fax-modem, 10x and 12x CD-ROM drives, and 3D 64-bit graphics acceleration with 2MB EDO video memory, MPEG video hardware, wavetable sound hardware, and a 10-watt subwoofer.

This has an estimated street price of $2,499 and $2,999.