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Acer Unveils High-Def Cinematic Six-Speaker Blu-Ray Laptop

Acer Inc., the Taiwanese computer maker that bought Gateway last year, said on Tuesday that it now aims to take laptop users as close as they can get to the high-definition home theater experience.

The top model of the new "Gemstone blue" line of laptops has a screen with the same resolution as an a top-of-the-line HDTV, at 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels, and will have six speakers, including a subwoofer, for so-called "5.1" surround sound.

The computer will go sale next month in the U.S. for $1,999. A model with three speakers and a smaller screen (but still HD resolution) will cost $1,699. Both will have built-in Blu-ray Disc drives.

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The computer industry has long had its set of standard screen resolutions, while the consumer electronics industry has standardized on different ones.

Acer's Blue line effectively adopts the consumer-electronics standard, which means that many movies and all HD TV shows will fill the screen, without black bars.

Acer said the laptops would be the first with 1,920-by-1,080 screens, and the top model is the first laptop with six speakers.

The $1,999 model has an 18.4-inch screen, placing it in the "desktop replacement" category of heavy laptops that aren't meant for more than occasional travel.

Even with six speakers, the laptop isn't capable of true surround sound, since that requires speakers on either side of the listener at ear level.

Some current laptops use two speakers to simulate the enveloping experience of surround sound.

Acer's laptop will do the same, but the simulation is better with six speakers than with two, said Acer senior vice president Jim Wong.

At the presentation in New York, Acer president Gianfranco Lanci said the company plans to keep the Gateway and eMachines brands it acquired last year and use them to meet its goal of selling 300 million units worldwide this year.

It was the third largest PC maker in the world in 2007.

Sumit Agnihotry, Acer's director of mobility for the Americas, said the Acer brand would be used for high-performance products like the Blue line, while eMachines would be the value brand and the design of Gateway products would focus more on emotional appeal and esthetics.