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Acer goes wide with new notebook

Wide-screened that is. The Aspire 1710 desktop replacement sports a 17-inch screen and is aimed primarily at businesses.

Big-screen notebooks are poised to enter the work force.

Acer is geared to unveil on Wednesday the Aspire 1710, a notebook with a 17-inch screen and a relatively low entry price of $1,499.

The Taiwan-based PC maker is making a bid to re-establish itself in the notebook market in the United States with a number of new models. The company is marketing the Aspire 1710 as a replacement for desktops or PC workstations primarily in the workplace.

Desktop replacement notebooks typically pair a desktop processor with a large screen and offer a relatively inexpensive price. The machines have been particularly popular with consumers and small businesses of late. But while it's aiming for a range of customers that also includes some consumers, Acer is expected to aim for medium-size businesses as well as government and education buyers.

Because it weighs in at nearly 16 pounds, the Aspire 1710 isn't as mobile as some other desktop replacement notebooks, which generally range in weight from 7 pounds to 10 pounds. But it's still easier to carry or stow away than a desktop. The Acer machine also offers a larger screen than many of the other business-oriented desktop replacement machines, such as IBM's ThinkPad G Series.

Acer will offer four versions of the Aspire 1710, some of which include components that are new to notebooks.

One model, the AS1712SMi, will feature Intel's 3EGHz Pentium 4. The "E" signifies that it is one of Intel's latest desktop Pentium 4 chips. The Acer notebook will also include a 120GB, 7,200rpm hard drive, according to Acer's Web site.

Although Acer simply dipped into the desktop PC parts bin to get the two components, the Aspire 1710 is still among the first notebooks to offer them. Most other desktop replacement notebooks come with 60GB or 80GB hard drives.

The notebook model will also sport 1GB of RAM, a DVD burner, Nvidia's GeForce FX Go5700 graphics card and 802.11g wireless networking, according to Acer's Web site. The machine, which will come with Microsoft's Windows XP Professional Edition operating system, is expected to cost about $2,000, according to a report by analyst firm ARS. A configuration with the same components and Windows XP Home Edition is expected to cost about $100 less, the report said.

The entry-level model, the AS1711SCi-XPHome model, includes a 2.8GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a combination CD-burner/DVD-ROM drive and 802.11g wireless. It relies on the graphics processor included in its Intel 865G chipset and comes with Windows XP Home Edition. It's expected to sell for $1,499, according to ARS. A configuration with the same hardware and Windows XP Professional Edition is expected to cost $100 more, the analyst firm's report said.

In other desktop replacement news, Toshiba updated on Tuesday its 17-inch screen Satellite P25 series with the P25-S520. The machine includes a 3GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a DVD-burner, Nvidia's GeForce FX Go 5200 graphics card and 802.11 wireless networking. It will sell for $2,099, Toshiba said in a statement.

The release follows the launch of Dell's latest consumer-oriented notebook, the Inspiron 9100, as well as new products from Hewlett-Packard.