Acer to launch 7-inch and 10-inch tablets before July

Acer Corp. will begin selling two or three new tablet PCs in the first half of the year, including one with a seven-inch screen, a company sales manager said on Monday.

The tablet launches will begin a gradual replacement of Acer’s small laptop-style netbook computers, in line with market demands, Taiwan sales manager Lu Bing-hsian said.

“They are aimed at phasing out netbooks,” he said. “That’s the direction of the market.”

They will use Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and run an Android operating system, Lu said. The largest will have a 10-inch screen, Lu said.The Taiwan-based computer giant will keep making netbooks, adding to its millions sold to date, but it will stick to simple models and manufacture fewer than in years past as tablets gain popularity, he said.

The tablets will run faster than laptops with Windows operating systems, and will use a four-core processor, he said. The company has not revealed any other product details. The tools will be made for common users, Lu said, rather than expressly for gamers.

Lu declined to estimate the sales price or the size of the first production run of new tablets.

Acer’s first tablet, a 12-inch version costing just under NT$30,000 (about US$1,000), sold 200 to 300 units per month until it was discontinued in July. Acer’s president and CEO hinted in October that more tablets were on the way.

The tablet market headed toward a boom last year after Apple released the iPad. Other companies have rivaled Acer in following the iPad with comparable products that use touchscreens. One is the Samsung Electronics Galaxy Tab.

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