IFA MIGHT not have the sheer scale of CES, but each press conference still goes to standing room only: like the Vegas show, the world's press are in attendance to see what's hot.
Last year, Acer was all about Intel's seventh-gen processors - so it makes sense that this year was all eighth gen, all the time.
Chairman and CEO Jason Chen talked about how Acer is continuing to break down barriers between humans and technology: from PCs to gaming and VR, AR, artificial intelligence, big data and the cloud (in six years at IFA, this was the first time this reporter has heard big data mentioned at what is, at the end of the day, a consumer show).
The conference didn't exactly start with a bang (although we can't blame Acer for getting rid of the boring stuff first), with a variety of small products like the iPuppyGo pet wearable. Tracking your own sleep patterns not enough to satisfy your craving for data? Now you can see how Rover is kipping. Neat...
Six months ago, Acer introduced the Holo360, a 360° camera with a 3 in screen. It's adding to that with the Vision360 and Xtro360. The Vision is an in-car camera that will switch on when "anything important" happens, like a collision - or just some beautiful scenery. Quite how it will distinguish between, for example, some lovely mountains and a three-car pile up remains to be seen. The Xtro360 is the family's premium product, with a large screen (about 5 in) and live streaming.
Drowning in Kaby Lake
The Aspire S 24 is the world's first all-in-one with an Intel eighth-gen processor - either Core i5 or i7. The 24" display has thin bezels, and the entire unit is less than 6mm thick. A Qi wireless charging pad and sub-woofer are built in to the base.
Next, Chen started to talk about Acer's LiquidLoop cooling technology, which enables fanless, low power (it's driven by the heat from the CPU) designs. The basic design isn't new, but a two-loop iteration (Double LiquidLoop) will be used on the new Switch 7 Black Edition convertible.
A clever bit of engineering makes the kickstand on the Switch 7 auto-deploy when the device is set on a solid surface, in either tablet or laptop mode. Not earth-shattering, but not too shabby, either. The book runs Windows 10 on - you guessed in - an eighth-gen processor, and has a stylus and under-glass fingerprint reader, too.
As lovely as the Black Edition's kickstand is, the Dolby audio on the new Spin 5 is rather more impressive. The Spin series is Acer's line of 360° convertibles, and the new model has front-facing speakers, with sound that adjusts to an optimum angle no matter the mode that it is used in. A software amp also raises and lowers volume automatically to combat ambient noise. Battery life is up to 13 hours.
Two new ultrabooks, the Swift 5 and Swift 7, were briefly shown off. Not much new here, but eighth-gen processors mean even more bulk shaved off: the Swift 5 weighs less than 1kg, while the Swift 7 is only 8.9mm thick.
Talking to Peter Han of Microsoft, Chen mentioned the blending of physical and digital realities, leading nicely (almost like it was planned) into the Acer Mixed Reality Headset. The first 30,000 customers to buy one will get a free download of a new Ghostbusters game. Who you going to call? Acer. Obviously.
On the hunt for gaming greatness
Sales of the Predator gaming product line rose more than 60 per cent YoY in the first half of 2017, said Chen, with variance between each category; for example, monitors were up more than 100 per cent. A monitor was, appropriately, the first product that we saw.
The Predator X35 breaks the gaming mold by using a black and blue colour scheme, instead of black and red, giving it a very modern feel. Acer already has 35 in curved displays, so what makes this one different?
Combining a 200Hz refresh, 4ms response time and 3840 x 1440 resolution is an impressive feat, which certainly distinguishes the X35. It also has G-Sync and HDR, a feature that is increasingly being recognised as important for gamers. The monitor is specifically designed for simulators, like racing and flight (and farm?) sims.
An impressive Predator desktop, the Orion 9000, was wheeled on-stage (again, where's the red and black? It's like Acer has never designed a gaming product before) to be drooled over. This beast has one of Intel's new Core i9 processors, with 18 cores, and uses all eight DIMM slots to hold up to 128GB of RAM. Storage is almost at server capacities, with up to a frankly ludicrous 44TB (that's a lot of Rocket League replays).
Most of the internals can be chosen by the user, including Nvidia or AMD graphics (up to four GPUs can be installed). All of that power comes at the price of heat - a lot of heat. That's why Acer has teamed up with Coolermaster to install a thermal management system called Icetunnel 2.0: a liquid cooling design with partitioned zones inside the PC. This keeps air flow around the PSU separate from flow around the GPUs, for example. End-users can install up to five fans inside the chassis.
If all of that wasn't enough, the PC also has wheels. Those mad men.
Lastly, we got to see the first of a new set of peripherals that Acer will launch over the coming months, starting with the Galea 500 headphones. These have 7.1 virtual surround sound and 3D Soundscape technology. The latter feature uses an internal processor, which can adjust sound output depending on the position of the wearer's head; when turning to look to the right (using VR or a multi-monitor set-up), for example, sound from the front will go to the left ear, while sound from the rear will be directed at the right ear.
John Needham, MD of Europe for Riot, closed the event, coming on-stage to announce the continued partnership between Riot and Asus for various League of Legends tournaments worldwide, including a new one running in China from September to November. μ
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