HP and Acer start netbook price war

Acer slashes prices on its Aspire one netbooks to as low as $329, while HP reveals new prices for Mini-Notes

Hewlett-Packard and Acer have lowered prices of their netbooks as the back-to-school sales season kicks into gear in the U.S., offering bargains for users.

Acer slashed prices on its Aspire one netbooks on Friday to as low as $329 for one version, while HP revealed new prices for Mini-Notes on its Web site.

[ For more on products in the hot mini-notebook category, check out our hands-on looks at Asus' Eee PC 901 and 1000, the Cloudbook Max netbook, Elitegroup's G10IL mini-laptop, MSI's Wind low-cost laptop, Giga-byte's M912X mini-laptop, HP's Mini-Note netbook and Acer's Aspire one. ]

Price-cutting by the two big PC vendors could prompt other netbook makers, such as Asustek Computer and Micro-Star International to follow.

Netbooks are mini-laptop PCs designed for mobility, and typically weighing less than 2 kilograms. Most of the components on board, including the microprocessor, are less powerful than those of full-fledged laptops, so batteries last longer. They're designed for Internet surfing and work on spreadsheets or word processor documents, not for heavy-duty gaming, video editing or other multimedia work.

The HP and Acer netbooks on sale both have 8.9-inch screens, smaller than the most common laptop PC screen size, 15.4 inches.

HP is offering reductions of $100 on some versions of the Mini-Note, with prices good through the end of August.

The biggest deals are in higher-end models, which run Microsoft's Windows Vista Business OS.

The price of the HP Mini-Note 2133 KR948UT has been slashed to $789 from $949, according to HP. The device has an 8.9-inch screen, uses a 1.2GHz Via C7-M microprocessor, has 2GB of DRAM and a 160GB hard disk drive (HDD) for data storage.

The lowest-priced Mini-Note running Windows Vista Home Basic is the KX868AT, which costs $599, down from $786, according to HP.

The lowest priced Mini-Note is the HP 2133 KR922UT at $499 on Amazon.com and elsewhere, but a better version of that netbook, the Mini-Note 2133 KX89AT offers a lot more for just $549.

Both those Mini-Notes run the Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 OS. The KX89AT has a 1.2GHz Via C7-M microprocessor, 1GB of DRAM, and a 120GB HDD, while the KR922UT has a 1.0GHz Via processor, 512MB of DRAM and a 4GB flash memory module for storage.

It's not clear which of the HP models come with a three-cell battery and which come with a six-cell battery, but the difference in run time can be huge. Three-cell batteries in many netbooks are rated for just a few hours of power, while the six-cell batteries can provide up to six or seven hours in some netbooks.

Acer's Aspire one netbooks all have 1.6GHz Intel Atom microprocessors.

The Aspire one AOA150-1570 comes with Microsoft Windows XP, 1GB of DRAM, a 120GB HDD, and a three-cell battery for $349.99 at Bestbuy.com.

A similar Aspire one, the AOA110-1722 that comes with the Linpus Linux Lite OS, 512MB of DRAM, 8GB of flash storage, and a three-cell battery, costs $329, Acer said.

Acer cut prices by about $50 for both models.

Acer also announced a new Aspire one model, the AOA150-1447, which comes with Windows XP, a 160GB HDD, and six-cell battery for $399.

Acer did not say how long the new pricing would be good for.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.