Acer has built two notebook computers that can connect to the internet and download data using 3G (third generation) mobile networks, becoming the fourth company to make such laptops for Vodafone's 3G service.
The Acer Aspire 5650, for consumers, and the Acer Travelmate 4260, for business users, use the same type of SIM (subscriber identity module) card used for mobile phones, in a 3G card slot in the laptop battery bay. Acer resellers will be able to offer Vodafone contracts and 3G cards in the second half of the year, according to Marion Stolzenwald, a Vodafone spokeswoman.
Pricing for the contracts will be announced when the laptop packages are launched later this year, she said. Vodafone will not sell the laptops itself.
Both of Acer's laptops run on Centrino Duo chip packages from Intel, meaning they can connect to wireless LANs as well as 3G networks. That's important for users because they'll be charged according to how much data they download on the 3G service, while many wireless LANs are free or very cheap.
The laptops will retail for around €1,500 (about £1,050) without the 3G contracts, an Acer representative said.
The Acer machines join 3G-ready laptops from Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu-Siemens. Among the notebooks the company is showing at CeBit, Vodafone showed a next-generation Dell notebook with a piece of tape over the name, since it has not been launched yet. It was the only laptop on show that did not carry a Centrino Duo sticker.
The Dell laptop was able to download a 2.72MB file from the internet over the 3G network in 46 seconds.