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Acer: Tablets will be replacing netbooks

Computer maker Acer certainly rode the wave of consumer demand for netbooks, pumping out variation-upon-variation of its Aspire One netbooks to meet consumer demand for low-cost, highly portable machines that could handle basic Internet tasks. But Acer now believes the netbook’s days are numbered and the market for portable computing devices will be dominated by tablets—and the company is already working to bring out high-powered tablets to meet those demands—including Android tablets built around Intel’s newest Sandy Bridge processors.

According to Computerworld, Acer’s Taiwan sales manager Lu Bing-hsian believes tablets will gradually replace netbooks in Acer’s consumer lineup, with Acer expanding the number of tablets it offers even as it scales back its netbook lines. Acer also plans to bring out Android tablets with 7- and 10-inch displays by mid-2011—and those systems will be based on quad-core processors from Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge line.

The technology industry has apparently decided that 2011 is the year of the tablet, in the wake of Apple’s highly-successful launch of the iPad in 2010. Although Apple currently dominates the tablet market, competition is expected to heat up tremendously: Samsung already has a bit of a hit on its hands with the Android-based Galaxy Tab, and major players like HP and Canada’s Research in Motion are getting products ready to pounce on consumers. And this year’s CES show in Las Vegas was almost tablet-centric: check out Digital Trends’ roundup of 25 tablet devices from the show.

However, while tablets have proven enormously popular for reading, media consumption, communication, and lightweight Internet tasks, it’s not clear how they can replace “traditional” computers, notebooks, and netbooks for writing, messaging, document editing, and other tasks that require significant data entry. Most tablets enable users to type on-screen with virtual keyboards—at the cost of significant screen real estate and, at best, an inconvenient experience. Many tablet devices can use add-on external keyboards just fine…but at that point, users might as well be using a traditional computer.