New Acorn reveals PC laptop websiteBy Josh Eilken. Published: 6th Sep 2006, 22:31:28 | Permalink | Printable
Calls time on RISC OSThe new Acorn Computers Limited have sneaked the first details of their range of notebooks onto their website. The new Nottingham-based company will be assembling notebooks locally using current Intel and AMD x86 mobile processors. The notebooks are said to be designed with close co-operation from nVidia, ATi and Microsoft.
Leading the six-model "Designed for Windows XP" range is the Solonote. Available with a choice of two dual-core processors, the 1.66GHz Intel T 2300E or the 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2, the small-and-light Solonote has a 12" screen, weighs 1.9kg, and sports a five hour battery life. The flagship edition, the sn2, is fitted with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and HD audio.
The largest model, the Deskbook, features an AMD Turion 64 MT-34 (1.8GHz) processor, 17" WXGA display, 1GB of DDR RAM, and an 80GB UDMA HDD. The up-spec db2 is the most fully featured in the range, with 256MB Radeon X700 Graphics, HD audio and a built-in 1.3M pixel webcam, whilst still retaining a three to four hour battery life.
The middle of the range is filled by two models, the desknote dn-1 and solobook sb-1, with 15.4" and 14" screens respectively, DDRII RAM and powered by the Intel Core Duo T 2300E (1.66GHz). All machines include built-in Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g WLAN, Bluetooth and are shipped with Windows XP Home Edition, Sun Microsystems StarOffice8 and ZoneAlarm pre-installed.
The only original technology which Acorn appear to have developed is their exclusive Vybrio LCD technology. Available as standard on all their notebooks, Acorn claims Vybrio displays achieve higher brightness levels than standard displays, reducing reflection and enhancing colour darkness. This is achieved by a shiny, glass-like finish from an anti-reflective chemical layer. The screens also utilise newly designed RGB filters to improve pixel emission efficiency and deliver higher contrast ratios.
ACL channel manager Oliver Tranfield said the company was aiming to keep the appeal of the Acorn brand broad and attack several markets at once.
He said: "We're going to be very strong in the education market where there's a lot of nostalgia around the brand, but we're not putting all our eggs in one basket. Our main markets will be small-medium businesses; we'll be hitting the retail pretty hard, as well as government and large enterprise."
However, computing retailers we spoke to today were unimpressed with Acorn's range. A spokesman from Harvey Norman, Australasia's largest retail computer chain, said he thought the range lacked any edge on the competition.
He said: "With a brand like Acorn, I'd say they'll be aiming for a stylised image like Apple, but yet their range doesn't seem to offer anything that other manufacturers don't."
Tranfield confirmed that the end of RISC OS at Acorn has been reached, saying that the company felt it was too far behind other mainstream operating systems: "RISC OS is something which Acorn finished with in the 1990s. There certainly won't be any more RISC OS for Acorn.
"I don't think there's a future for RISC OS on Acorn. It's a very mainstream brand with high standards and a good reputation, so (for Acorn notebooks) it'll only be XP Home."
Individual dealers are still free to bundle VirtualAcorn emulation software with the notebooks however. Although the wholesale price will include the software bundle and Windows XP Home Edition, it is not mandatory for this to be included for resale. Additional software may be bundled at the dealer's discretion, who is able to adjust the retail price accordingly.
The company will also be stocking a small range of accessories, including notebook carry cases designed by Dicota, Acorn-branded DDR RAM and portable USB scanners. They will also be re-selling software through an Avanquest online store.
A preview of ACL's website is now live, showing the full details of the model range and company philosophy. The site is mostly complete except for the list of Acorn Authorized dealers, who have not been confirmed as yet, and end user support pages. ACL plans to confirm their complete dealer network over the next week. Already the company has recruited Compudirect.co.uk as their major authorized online retailer, but are yet to attract a major retail chain.
Tranfield added: "As you know Acorn are in the midst of a relaunch, and we'll be in touch with potential dealers this week.
"We will be judging them - and I know that sounds harsh, but we want to keep the brand's reputation for quality - on factors such as their websites, annual turnover and other products offered."
The company, which launched in May this year, continues to sell itself firmly on the back of achievements made by the original Acorn, which was dismembered following a $440M takeover by Morgan Stanley in 1999.
The site refers to Acorn's "tremendous reputation" as a "UK-wide trusted brand" and speaks of the company continuing Acorn's legacy of innovation with the development of their Vybrio technology.
However, on their website, the company said: "The Acorn registered trademark is assigned to Acorn Computers Limited under license in the relevant classes 9 and 41, the same classes as the original Acorn Computers established in Cambridge in 1978. However, RISC OS and ARM Holdings are now under license to other companies and have no connection with the newly incorporated Acorn Computers Limited. The relaunch of the Acorn trademark by Acorn Computers Limited is for a new range of notebook PC's that are assembled and supported in the UK."
ACL declined to comment on their use of the Acorn brand, which took many RISC OS users by surprise. Still in their first year of trading, the new Acorn plan to grow the domestic side of their business rapidly in the coming months. Referring to themselves as 'a large British company', ACL claims to have invested £100,000 in marketing and plans to invest a further £300,000 in the next six months. In addition to their notebooks being assembled in the UK, all after sales support and repair centres will also be based domestically.
On their website, the company said: "In the coming months Acorn will invest in expanding its workforce within the UK, creating a multitude of new jobs in several regions across the country."
The company is yet to announce where its workforce will be based.
Acorn Computers website
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