PDC 2009 Laptop Giveaway

, 2009-11-19

During Steven Sinofsky’s keynote address at PDC09 today, he started telling a story about how some of the engineers in the Windows Division partnered with Acer to learn what a hardware manufacturer goes through when they design and configure a laptop computer. This story went on for several minutes, and I was thinking, “Ok, I get it, lets move on”, when he surprised everyone and said that all paid attendees would be getting one of these specially configured units. After a few seconds of disbelief, the hall erupted in a very long round of applause!

The unit is based on the new Acer Aspire 1420P, it is a convertible TabletPC with a 1.2GHz Celeron U2300 45nm dual-core processor, Mobile Intel GS45 video, 2GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory (supports up to 8GB), an 11.6" 1366x768 multi-touch screen, webcam/microphone,, 3G WWAN, WLAN (supporting up to Draft-N), S/PDIF for digital speakers, 3 USB ports, 250GB HDD, card reader, and even an HDMI port. It weighs 3.8 pounds with a six cell battery.

It came with x64 Windows 7 Ultimate, and a pre-beta version of Office 10, along with Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 and Corel paint it! touch. It has a Windows Experience Index score of 3.2, the lowest score being for “Desktop performance for Windows Aero”.

This machine is just slightly larger than my little Toshiba NB205, but it is significantly faster and more useful. Having a screen resolution of 1366x768 is a big deal compared to the net book’s 1024x600 screen resolution, not to mention the units' tablet and touch screen capabilities. I agree with Joe Wilcox that this was a move designed to counter the ever growing sales volume of net books, which are cannibalizing sales of larger notebooks, which hurts HW manufacturers and Microsoft.  It is also a bold move by Acer, which is looking to pass up Dell as the #2 manufacturer of PCs.

So far, I have only installed the November CTP of SQL Server 2008 R2, but it is working great so far. My biggest short-term issue is how to get it back home to Denver. I already had my HP Envy 15 and the little Toshiba NB205, so now I have to worry about getting three laptop computers through airport security…

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