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New Acorn reveals PC laptop website

By Josh Eilken. Published: 6th Sep 2006, 22:31:28 | Permalink | Printable

Calls time on RISC OS

New Acorn logoThe 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."

VirtualAcorn bundles
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."

Reputation
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.

Links

Acorn Computers website

Previous: Hallas to study history of Acorn PhD
Next: ROS fan loses Acorn domain in dispute

Discussion

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Due to the article earlier this year, I'm sure most people will now be aware that the new Acorn Computers Ltd has nothing to do with RISC OS. I therefore fail to see the need for such a long article which that serves to promote Acorn Computers Ltd as a reseller of Windows based notebook computers. To all intents and purposes the new company has nothing whatsoever to do with RISC OS.

The paragraph about bundling Virtual Acorn appears to have been dropped in to give the article some kind of relevance.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 6/9/06 10:54PM
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I found the article both interesting and informative. True, it has nothing to do with RISC OS but I retain some nostalgia for Acorn and am interested (if a little saddened) to see where the brand is going).

It's interesting that the 'new' company regard the name as an asset after such a long break. I think most of us RO users have had the experience of nedding to reference back to the Beeb to explain who Acorn are/were - not the most contemporary of references. And Castle considered that a "clean break" from the Acorn name was best for them when they launched the Iyonix.

I still wish the newcomers well though - at least the machines are assembled in the UK.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 6/9/06 11:10PM
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Hum - I can't seem to submit comments with Oregano2 any more. I thought it was a temporary site problem but it's happened several times and (whisper it soft) it works from Safari :-(

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 6/9/06 11:12PM
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Well, I was willing to give the new Acorn the benefit of the doubt, but after reading this article, all I can think is "Burn Heretics! Burn!".

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 6/9/06 11:18PM
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/crazymode NOoooooooo!

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 6/9/06 11:21PM
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Someone please get a hold of one of these and put a copy of VirtualAcorn on it, then take a photo of RISC OS 4 running on it. That is about as close as "what could have been" that we will get.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 7/9/06 6:30AM
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They are still trying to pass them selves off on the reputation of a company they have absolutely no connection with, and further more claiming to be a British Brand when their systems have 0% UK manufactured content.

They need sueing out of existance post haste, otherwise the only thing people are going remember Acorn as, is a reseller of cheap and nasty PC laptops that eventually went bust when the support costs caught up with them.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 7/9/06 10:08AM
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In reply to ksattic:

I think what you should have written was: "Somone please get a hold of one of these and cover it with a white handkerchief!"

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 7/9/06 10:16AM
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The thing is, though - how *can* you sue them out of existence? What have they done that's legally - as opposed to morally - wrong?

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 7/9/06 11:33AM
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How anyone could link the two is beyond me, the new company seem to be good at marketing.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 7/9/06 12:25PM
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We could do the same trick and call our RISC OS computers Windows?

I don't think that we can be sued out of existence, or rather, sue what out of the market?

Just kidding. ;-)

Steve.

--

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 7/9/06 12:55PM
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Lindows was sued in just about every country by Microsoft, and even after they changed to their name to Linspire Microsoft still dragged them in to court.

As for sueing faux-ACL out of existance, all it needs is an injunction stopping them trading on a false premise, then ensure the case isn't heard in court for a few years, and the schisters behind it would have no option but to go away and rip off another demised brand.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 7/9/06 3:37PM
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Anyone else noticed that 'their site' has only the acorn logo on it?

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 7/9/06 5:08PM
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em2ac: follow the link in the article above, it has a 'preview' of the coming site. [link]

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 7/9/06 5:26PM
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Looking at the company website preview it seems the new company has alot going for it in terms of advertising and marketing, the Acorn brand alone has a greater significance than all the other RISC OS companies together. I dont like the idea of this new acorn company, but they could be used in some way to promote RISC OS, maybe by some of the companies such as Castle or ROL becoming development partners or something. It sounds a long stretch and maybe a crazy idea, but "If you can't beat them join them!"

 is a RISC OS UserOliverB on 7/9/06 10:40PM
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In reply to Druck:

And who would pay for the lawyers needed for such an action?

The recent dispute between Castle and ROL probably cost both companies lots of money in legal fees and lost business -such an action as you seem to be advocating would only cost more. Can any RISC OS company afford that, particularly on the chance that they may not win?

I agree with Moss, the new Acorn may not be morally correct in what there doing but are we so sure theres anything actually illegal in their actions?

RISC OS won't survive if our only defence is slagging off any competition. What we, i.e RISC OS users and RISC OS companies, need to do is show what RISC OS is and what it can do rather than rant about some company trading on past glories.

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 8/9/06 9:11AM
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There's something about the strapline on their preview website - "Acorn recommends Microsoft ® Windows® XP"

As for the Vybrio technology - it sounds very similar to Acer's CrystalBright technology. I also don't see much point on emphasising the brand as British, when most of the components and technology are made abroad i.e. AMD's facilities are in Texas, Germany and Singapore.

Bigger question - what *is* British? ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 8/9/06 10:35AM
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OliverB: those schisters promote RISC OS? What are you on? They are a box shifting outfit flogging WINDOWS PCs, how on earth could any RISC OS company partner with that, even if faux-ACL weren't doing everything to remove all association of RISC OS with the real Acorn and to deny it still exists.

Col1: Our only defence is not slagging off the competitiion but defending our legacy and reputation from being misappropriated by a fly by night opportunist fraudlently passing themselves off as Acorn. They are the ones going to schools claiming Acorn has relaunched, reminding them of the quality and low running costs of past generations of real Acorn systems and then passing off their car boot sale quality XP laptops as more of the same - fraud.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 8/9/06 10:47AM
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In reply to Druck:

Perhaps I didn't make my original statement clear enough. I don't disagree with the sentiment that the 'new' Acorn Computers limited are trading on the good will attached to the previous Acorn Limited. I also don't disagree with the sentiment that we, as in the RISC OS community, should do everything we can to stop them. What I don't agree with is the involvment of lawyers. Lawyers are not cheap - and I suspect no one in the RISC OS community can afford the kind of protracted legal battle that would arise from pursuing action through the courts.

I also think the sentiment of my original comment stands - we should be showing what RISC OS can do now and promoting that where-ever and when-ever possible i.e. lets generate some possitive PR to counter-act the negative PR of the new Acorn Computers ltd. Lets show that RISC OS is alive and kicking. (of course its easy said than done but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try)

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 8/9/06 1:02PM
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PR is also expensive, and far more difficult to target without some major new product announcement or some such. What media outlet is going to take any notice of "RISC OS formerly the real Acorn is still here honest", it would have no effect. On the other hand raising a legal injunction aginst faux-ACL would generate waves of coverage in computer press and even hit the mainstream media too. It would be the most effective PR money could buy.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 8/9/06 1:17PM
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My two cents (Euro of course). Although I think that this discussion is rather academic, as I don't see too much that can be done to revert the situation, perhaps we can't limit the damages of being associated to a boxshifter if ROS Ltd and Castle (or even Pace, if they think it's worth) send some corporate e-mails to whatever education-related to clarify that nor they nor RISC OS are 'involved' with that sort of things. AFAIK the only claims that (fake)ACL can make is that's UK-based, that they sell computers and that they NOW own the Acorn brand, but that's all. Said that, I too don't agree with the publication of such an article, as I think that 90% is retired from ACL brochures/site/advertising/whatever. It's not an 'head-in-the-sand' attitude, simply IMHO this type of information isn'needed here.

 is a RISC OS Userbernie on 8/9/06 1:31PM
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druck: If you want a legal injunction, might I suggest you contact MSDW and ask them to do it, rather than all this hand waving.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 8/9/06 1:34PM
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Im reply to myself: forget what I said about teaming up with the fake ACL- it was a crazy idea!

 is a RISC OS UserOliverB on 8/9/06 11:21PM
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The best that could be achieved would be to make them remove any claims to have anything to do with the real Acorn, which might annoy them slightly, but I don't see that it would put them out of business.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 11/9/06 11:20AM
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The trade press has had some 'interesting' write ups over the past few months. I did email the editor after the first one but nothing ever happened about it. Some links:

[link] [link] [link]

 is a RISC OS Userliquid on 11/9/06 12:29PM
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Have tried to ask them what version of RiscOs the machines use via their email link on the page but I just get a 405 error.

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 11/9/06 2:12PM
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Pete:

The important page to read when considering wasting their time doing things like that is [link] - I should think the fuss that was made when news of this new company using an old name first came out is the reason they've made those points clear on that page.

They're still describing themselves even there as a 're-launched' ACL, but they're making it quite clear that they have no connection to RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 11/9/06 6:51PM
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I notice someone has already added this latest chapter to Acorn Computers entry in Wikipedia ([link]).

 is a RISC OS Usergazza_fp on 12/9/06 3:25AM
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Is there anyway that the Wikipedia entry could be edited, and have the info about the new company listed seperately ?

Other than their name, there is no link to the rest of the Acorn data.

As it stands, the appearance is that there are other links.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 12/9/06 3:04PM
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What is more shocking is aparently Advertising Standards has said new Acorn has proved to their satifaction they have the rights to use the nut logo....

Correct me if I'm wrong but is that not still registered to an ex acorn person??? So how can new acorn have the rights to use it???

Cheers

John

 is a RISC OS Usermrmac on 2/10/06 12:39PM
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Just seen one on ebay "Be one of the first to join the revival of the legend! " it says.

not so sure.

If you realy want to see it click on the "Auctions" link on Drobe's front page 8 Hours to go.

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 05/10/06 10:53AM
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