Acer to launch HD-ready Aspire One

May 19, 2009 | 10:09

Tags: #720p #acer-aspire-one #aspire-one #atom #h264 #hd

Companies: #acer

Acer looks set to finally bring usable media playback to the netbook market with a new Aspire One featuring a rather snazzy co-processor along with a miniature optical drive.

Dubbed the Acer Aspire One 571 and first spotted by macles* – via Fudzilla – the device is a pretty straight forward netbook at first glance. The 10.1” screen and Atom N280 1.66GHz CPU aren't likely to raise any eyebrows, but it's the multimedia functionality that will make this model stand out from the crowd.

The Aspire One 571 is the first netbook to come equipped with a multimedia co-processor from Quartics. The Quartics Q1721 is designed to accelerate the decoding and encoding of HD video – including H.264 sources – with full hardware scaling and filtering for lower definition videos. By giving the Atom N280 a friend in the Quartics chip, Asus are basically ensuring problem-free HD playback – something quite new for a netbook.

The 571 also features an interesting miniature optical drive next to the touchpad. Dubbed Vmedia, the miniature 32mm discs are capable of storing 1GB each – with 2GB versions promised in the near future. Sadly, the Vmedia drive in the 571 is read-only – and will rely on consumers being willing to trade quality for convenience and buy films in a format only usable with a portable device, something Sony struggled with when it launched its own UMD mini optical disc format.

To make the most of the multimedia functionality, Asus have opted to boost the resolution – although not the size – of the screen to a not inconsiderable 1280x720, allowing for full 720p playback of HD content. Anyone who's been looking for a netbook with a more usable screen resolution might have just had their wish granted.

Sadly, there's no announcement from Acer on price or launch date – although it's thought the company will be making more information on the 571 available at the Computex show.

Is the Acer Aspire One 571 the netbook you've been waiting for, or are you put off by the Vmedia drive? Should Acer have just bundled an external Blu-ray drive and had done with it? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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