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Acer's new Aspire V 17 Nitro puts a Kinect-like camera inside a gaming laptop

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Gaming PCs have always been about power: their job is to do more things, more quickly. But as Intel's RealSense 3D camera, Leap Motion, and other technologies start to be integrated into laptops, gamers are starting to get not just new games to play but new ways to play them.

Take Acer's Aspire V 17 Nitro, the company's well-received entry-level gaming laptop. Acer announced a new model today ahead of CES that includes RealSense, which uses a standard camera, an infrared sensor, and a laser projector to map the world in three dimensions. It's similar to Kinect in a lot of ways, and can see an amazing amount — all ten of your fingers, what's behind you, even your exact facial expressions. Acer's bundling a few apps that take advantage of the tech as a way of proving its usefulness: there's Warrior Wave, a game in which you use your hands to manipulate every aspect of your players, and a 3D-scanning app called 3DMe. They're niche uses with niche compatibility right now, but they open up a huge number of ways you might start to interact with your computer. As other manufacturers start to support RealSense, too, it's going to become a more versatile platform very quickly. (RealSense already helps power the HP Sprout, which has its own weird ideas about interaction.)

Otherwise, the V Nitro is just a good-looking gaming machine. It has a 17.3-inch, 1080p display, Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and as much as 1TB of hard drive space. There are even four speakers and a Blu-ray drive — this is a media machine through and through. It's a fairly simple-looking device, really, its glowing red keyboard the only indication it's a gaming laptop.

The new V Nitro will be on sale in January. Price wasn't announced, but it'll probably sit once again near the low end of the gaming-laptop spectrum. And if you buy one, it will be watching you. And your fingers.

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Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro pictures