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Acer Ultrabook Confirmed At Sub-$900, Could Ignite Price War

Acer's sub-$900 price tag for its inaugural ultrabook throws down the gauntlet to rivals such as Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba.

New Age Electronics, the consumer electronics division of distributor Synnex, is currently listing the product for its retail customers at the $899.99 price point, a Synnex spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

The sub-$900 pricing is expected to start a price war in the burgeoning ultrabook market, where rivals Lenovo and Toshiba have already unveiled models with prices starting at $1,200 and $1,000 respectively. Acer rival Asus hasn't yet announced pricing for its X21 and X31 ultrabooks.

"The low price sends a clear signal that Acer intends to compete with Asus for the opening price point," said Deron Kershaw, a notebook analyst at Gap Intelligence, a San Diego-based research firm.

Kershaw said Acer's move may cause Asus and other competitors such as Hewlett-Packard to match the $899 price point in the U.S. market.

The $899.99 price tag is also roughly $200 less than what Acer is charging for the product in Europe.

The ultrabook category represents a new class of product aimed at stealing thunder from Apple’s MacBook Air ultralight notebook, iPad and other offerings in the fast-growing tablet space.

Acer, for its part, isn't saying whether this pricing information is accurate. "We do not confirm this price and will not disclose local configurations or pricing until it becomes available locally," an Acer spokesperson said in an e-mail.

The company didn't reveal U.S. pricing when it unveiled its first ultrabook, the S3 Aspire, earlier this month at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin.

Synnex's e-commerce partner portal, ECExpress, currently includes a cryptically worded New Age Electronics listing for an unnamed $899.99 Acer product with a 13.3 inch display, an Intel Core i5-2467M processor and a silver body, all of which are featured in the Aspire S3.

Click image for full-sized view of Synnex ECExpress screenshot.

Intel began promoting the Ultrabook concept in May at Computex in Taiwan, using it to define laptops that meet strict specifications for form factor and performance. In Intel's view, ultrabooks must be thin, boot up quickly and support extended battery life, with pricing in the $1,000 range.

However, some early ultrabook entrants' offerings haven't met this pricing bar. Lenovo's IdeaPad U300S Ultrabook will ship in mid to late October for a starting price of $1,200 and Toshiba's Portege Z830 Series Ultrabook will launch in November with initial pricing under $1,000.

The unit is expected to become available within the next two weeks, sources familiar with the situation told CRN.

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