Along with a lot of other new PCs, Acer has announced more details — including pricing and availability — for the gaming lineup it unveiled in April. The "Predator" series encompasses Windows 10 laptops and desktop PCs, monitors, an Android tablet, and potentially smartphones or projectors in the future. Not only do we know the general specifications of these very powerful, extremely silly-looking machines, we know they'll be coming this fall.
Acer's line was designed for "serious gamers, members of what we call the Predator Tribe," because there's no point in buying a gaming device if the purchase doesn't double as some kind of nerd gang initiation ritual (hopefully the Predator Tribe's turf doesn't overlap with my own Republic of Gamers, because it already stole our colors). Based on the massive "armor-covered" G6 desktop whose availability was announced at Gamescom last month, it may double as a Decepticon smuggling operation. And the names for its keyboard, audio system, and other features could be adapted into a serviceable third-string spinoff of Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, starring such characters as:
- Killer DoubleShot Pro
That said, it's also a series of products with decently interesting gaming-related options or accessories. The Predator 15 and Predator 17 notebook, for example, are thick but relatively normal-looking gaming laptops. They're equipped with Intel's new Skylake Core i7 processor, and "select models" include up to 32GB of memory and a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card. They've got, respectively, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch screens, although only the Predator 15 includes the option to use a 4K screen instead of a standard high-definition one. And they've got support for USB Type-C, the next-generation connectivity tech that's just starting to roll out to computers.
Any high-end laptop can fairly count as a gaming PC, but there are a few extras that make much more sense in that context. The laptops will let users swap out their optical drive for a third cooling fan, helping players get through particularly intense gaming sessions. They also offer all sorts of minute customization options, including fine fan control, a keyboard with different zones whose lights can be adjusted independently, and a networking option that will send data over ethernet and Wi-Fi simultaneously (although we're not sure how much this will help performance).
Acer takes on the Nvidia Shield with a haptic tablet
The most intriguing part of the line so far is the Predator 8, a very slender aluminum-shelled gaming tablet along the lines of Nvidia's Shield Tablet. The Android 5.1 tablet has an 8-inch HD display that can be used with an optional stylus, up to 64GB of storage with an additional microSD card slot, an Intel Atom x7 processor, and what Acer promises are four powerful front-facing speakers. More unusually, it can provide haptic feedback with "a real sense of vibration" — something Acer suggests could come to a smartphone in the future as well.
Besides these, there are some new monitors: the curved 35-inch Predator Z35, with a 2560 x 1080 screen, and the flat XB1 series, which includes a 28-inch 4K model and a 27-inch model that comes in 4K and 2560 x 1440 flavors. Acer is emphasizing clarity and fast refresh rates, both advantageous in the twitch-reflex world of gaming. The Z35 is coming to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and North America in December, starting at $1,199 in the US. The XB1 series will come out in October in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and in November for North America, starting at $799. The Predator 8 tablet is on a similar timeline: it's coming out in October for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and China, and it's coming to North America on November 6th for $299, with a two-week exclusivity deal at Newegg.
The laptops, meanwhile, will start at $1,499 for the Predator 15 and $1,599 for the Predator 17. They'll be available in China in October, with the rest of Acer's markets getting them in November.