There's no question that manufacturers are gearing up for Windows 8's launch on October 26th with all different kinds of convertible laptops, but there will also be a more traditional route for getting a touchscreen laptop for the new OS: clamshell laptops with touch-enabled displays. Following their first unveil at IFA last month, Acer is now giving us some more information on its first entries into that market: the touch-equipped Aspire M5 ultrabook and thin-and-light Aspire V5 laptops.
The good news is that it looks like touch panels aren't placing such a price premium on Windows 8 clamshells — the 14-inch M5 ultrabook with touch starts at $799.99, while the 14-inch V5 costs $749.99 and the 15.6-inch version cost $50 more. For comparison, the non-touch 15.6-inch Aspire A5 has a $499.99 starting price. The Aspire M5 (officially called the M5-481PT) comes with a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display, dual core, 1.7GHz Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM, DVD drive, and 20GB SSD + 500GB hard drive combo. Despite the low-res display, what's primarily missing here from the non-touch versions is discrete graphics — don't expect to get much gaming done on this machine. Thankfully there is a backlit keyboard, the top casing is made of aluminum alloy, and Acer estimates eight hours of battery life. The system squeezes into ultrabook specifications at 4.6 pounds and 0.81 inches thick.
Meanwhile, the Aspire V5 gives you a choice of either a 14- or 15.6-inch screen (V5-471P and V5-571P, respectively) at 1366 x 768, and it loses the hybrid SSD storage. The real difference is the lack of aluminum construction, however, and a thicker design. Both the V5 and M5 touch models support up to 10-finger multitouch however, and while we haven't seen everything that other manufacturers are going to offer on October 26th, this is a good sign that touchscreens may not break the bank. It's worth noting that Acer is still offering non-touchscreen models of the Aspire M5 and V5, including an 11-inch version (starting at $449.99), and that plans to bring the touchscreen-equipped Aspire M3 we saw last month at IFA to the US is still to be determined. If you're interested in the Aspire M5 touch, meanwhile, you should know it is going to be a Best Buy exclusive in the United States.