Have an Acer up its sleeve?

The Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer is surging ahead in market share, and while it’s still chasing Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the company is not letting up.

Acer recently unwrapped its Timeline series of notebooks, with prices starting at about $700. That’s $700 for Acer’s flagship product. The company claims up to eight hours of battery life with a conventional hard drive, and 10 hours with a solid-state drive. The heaviest model in the lineup is just more than five pounds; the lightest is 3.5 pounds. The Timelines promise to turn the heat down with their "Laminar Wall Jet" technology, which is supposed to redirect cooling air along the bottom side of the notebook. Developed with Intel, Laminar Wall Jet incorporates a design used to cool turbine blades.

Screen sizes run from 13 to 15 inches, an Apple-like trackpad supports pinch functions, and there are scads of options and add-ons. Considering that Dell’s equally svelte Adamo laptop costs twice as much, Acer may have a trump card in its latest laptop.

— Stephen Williams,

New York Times News Service


Get at your DVR through the phone

It’s not often that a phone app is better than the original program.

But in this case, the free DirecTV phone app, which lets you use your iPhone to tell your digital video recorder to grab your favorite shows, beats the DVR itself.

To search for a show, you can just use the iPhone’s keyboard to type out a title. At home, you have to use the little arrow buttons on your remote to hunt down each letter on the screen. You could watch "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" in the time it takes to look it up.

I found the iPhone version superior even to the online version used with a computer. With the app, one click in the settings menu and the iPhone will display only the channels you receive. So if you don’t get Showtime, you won’t see Showtime listings. The computer page doesn’t have that option.

If not for this app, I would have missed out on a classic British comedy, "I’m All Right Jack." (Turner Classic Movies, 10 p.m., April 19). That’s reason enough to name this App of the Week.

— Roy Furchgott, New York Times News Service

... and rear projection, too


In this world of ever-thinner and ever-larger flat-panel TVs, who would want a bulky rear-projection set?

Obviously, not many people, which is why Mitsubishi has de-emphasized the fact that its largest TVs use rear-projection technology.

"Erased" might be a better word. The term "rear projection" never appears on the press release promoting its latest models. And on its Web site, the only mention of the DLP (for Digital Light Processing) rear-projection technology used to power its new 73-inch model is on the specifications page, several layers deep.

Instead, Mitsubishi refers to its seven new rear-projection sets as "Home Theater TVs." And if it’s experience you want, you can’t get a much bigger one than from this company’s offerings.

Its newest DLP lineup includes sets ranging in size from 60 inches to whopping 82-inch models. Two versions of that behemoth are available, priced at either $4,200 or $5,000.

At that size, plasma can’t touch DLP on price. List price on Panasonic’s smaller 65-inch plasma models ranges from $6,000 to $7,000. And Samsung’s 63-inch plasma sets cost $4,800 to 5,300. Call them what you want, but at these prices and sizes, rear projection is still a good deal.

— Eric Taub, New York Times News Service

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