With PC sales dropping alarmingly, what will come after the Windows platform? With its new DA241HL model, Acer appears to think that a small part of the answer could be, of all things, Google’s Android.
Volume vendors have been experimenting with Android for some time around the fringes, but the appearance of Acer’s second 24-inch all-in-one (AIO) Android 4.2 touch PC at this week’s IFA Show in Berlin is still a striking development.
Based around Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor, the unit lacks a keyboard (although one can be added, which Acer might or might not make available as an accessory). Lacking that, it is basically a giant tablet as its Tegra architecture might suggest.
This does raise the question of who and what it is for. One answer is that it is a display unit for smaller Android tablets and smartphones which it can be connected to using MHL (Mobile High-definition Link technology. Given that the price being quoted for the AIO in advance of its official release is around 429 euros (approximately £360) that looks like a possibility.
The second possibility is that it is simply Android 4.2 on a larger screen, running the same Play store apps as any tablet. However, how many of those apps – designed to fit on smaller screens – will look good on a 24-inch screen (with 20 to 75 degrees tilt) is not clear.
Alternatively, the MHL allows the DA241HL to connect to a conventional Windows 8 PC via the HDMI or USB ports and used as a 2-touch display.
In echoes of Google’s other PC operating system, the Chrome OS, the system also supports up to five separate users from the same machine, allowing each to access their own desktop and apps.
Last week IDC predicted that PC sales would drop by 9.7 percent globally in 2013, and one reason cited is that consumers have grown tired of the one-size-fits-all model espoused by Windows 8. Windows would not revive until prices drop to Android-like levels. PC makers appear to agree; experimentation with new designs could be a feature of the IFA Show for some time to come.
Recently Acer's been feeling some of this pain, reporting year-on-year PC sales that were a stinging 32 percent lower in the second quarter of 2013.