Acer's making a big Windows 8 play at its event today in New York City, announcing a handful of unique devices including the new Aspire P3. Acer calls the P3 an "ultrabook convertible," and that's a fairly apt description: it's a tablet and detachable keyboard dock running Windows 8, with a Core i3 or i5 processor. It reminds us a bit of the Surface, with the clip-on keyboard and pen support. Acer claims it's the first of its kind, though that may be semantic: we heard about the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix months ago, though we've yet to see it in stores.
Acer calls the P3 the perfect device for consumption and creation, an increasingly common trope among Windows PC manufacturers. It has an 11.6-inch HD display, weighs 3.06 pounds, and is about 3/4 of an inch thick. Acer promises more than six hours of battery life, fast boot and resume times, and the HDMI and USB 3.0 ports you'd expect from an ultrabook.
We've had a few minutes to spend with the device, and at first blush, well, it's a lot like the Surface. A slightly clumsier Surface, maybe, since getting the Tablet out of its plastic shell is quite difficult. It's a bit thick and heavy for a tablet, but whether open or closed is awfully svelte for a laptop. It's a nice metallic silver, and based on a couple of minutes of use seems to run well.
The dock's folding fabric is nice and grippy, and the P3's keyboard is excellent despite its relatively small size. Based on the sheer awkwardness of its transformation you're likely to spend more time using the P3 as a laptop than as a tablet, but for the company's first try at an "ultrabook convertible" it seems to work relatively well.
The P3 is available now, starting at $799.99. Whether it's mostly a big, expensive tablet or a light, cheap ultrabook, we'll have to wait and find out.
Dante D'Orazio contributed to this report.