Acer has taken the reins off of the first laptop to sport a curved display and the long-awaited StarVR headset. The freakishly powerful Predator 21 X gaming laptop and 5K virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD) developed with Starbreeze both debuted during Acer's IFA 2016 conference in Berlin on 31 August.
The Predator 21 X's headline-grabbing 21in 2560 x 1080, curved IPS screen will likely be the talk of Acer's IFA conference, although the monster laptop's under-the-hood specifications are equally staggering. Boasting two Nvidia GTX 1080 processors, Intel's brand new 7th generation Kaby Lake processor and Tobii eye-tracking tech, the 8kg colossus will be able to laugh in the face of any of game's meager system requirements.
With five cooling fans and a Cherry MX mechanical keyboard with adjustable RGB backlighting, the Predator 21 X is quite a package, although the machine's chunky-spaceship aesthetic found on so many gaming laptops is still an acquired taste. While Acer did not mention a concrete retail price-tag, Pocket-Lint is reporting that a whopping figure of £6,000 is a likely ballpark estimate.
StarVR and IMAX
Acer also announced a partnership with IMAX that will see its 5K StarVR virtual reality HMD feature at the IMAX VR Center in Los Angeles set to open later this year. Co-created by Swedish video game developer Starbreeze Studios, Acer hopes that the StarVR's ultra-wide 210-degree horizontal field of view and custom optics will blur the lines between movies and video games.
Acer president and CEO Jason Chen — who also revealed that the headset will enter mass production in 2017 — said of the announcement: "The realisation of the most premium VR experience ever offered isn't just our dream, but one of an entire ecosystem that encompasses hardware makers, video game developers, theatre companies, filmmakers and many others."
Rather than competing with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR within the mainstream virtual reality market, Acer and Starbreeze's StarVR will be showcased at location-based StarCade venues and sold to professional companies, with "high-end cinemas, gaming arcades, automotive retail and aviation training", all possible candidates for its premium VR thrills.
Acer Swift 7, Spin 7 and curved-gaming monitors
Away from Acer's uber-expensive offerings, the Taiwanese company also showed off a selection of more retail-friendly products at IFA 2016.
The ultra-thin 9.98mm Acer Swift 7 laptop appears to be aiming for the MacBook Air's crown, becoming the first laptop to fall under the 1cm mark. The 13.3-inch Full HD, Windows 10 machine comes with a 7th generation Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and weighs just 1.1kg.
Meanwhile, the Spin 7, follows the same design language as the Swift 7 and basic specification of its thinner sibling, but trades in the smaller form factor for a more powerful 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor and a touchscreen that can rotate a full 360 degrees. Both laptops launch in October, with UK pricing still to be confirmed.
Acer also followed Samsung and LG by introducing two 27ins curved desktop monitors designed for gamers; the 1080p Predator Z271T with a 144Hz refresh rate and the XB271HUT that boasts a higher 2560 x 1440 resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate. Both monitors also support Nvidia G-Sync and the same Tobii eye-tracking technology which features on the Predator 21 X laptop.
The Z271T launches in October, while its larger counterpart arrives in December.