Acer and HP working on spicing up notebook designs

acer-aspire-s7_dtIs the traditional clamshell laptop design headed the way of the dinosaur? DigiTimes is reporting that both Acer and HP are working on innovative new designs for their forthcoming notebooks, specifically those based on Intel’s new Haswell chip architecture. The Haswell chip is destined for Ultrabooks, a category created by Intel that includes super thin notebooks with low-power chips and solid-state drives. So what can we expect from the two companies?

Acer is said to be working on a rotatable hinge that could allow for a notebook to morph into a tablet and just as easily switch back for typing purposes. DigiTimes says that this convertible laptop could launch as soon as May and that Acer is considering a “secret weapon” to help boost sales and attract attention. Convertible laptops with screens that swivel around aren’t new, but Lenovo’s back-bending Yoga notebook has been well-received, so perhaps there’s hope for Acer. Personally, we just hope the company ditches the cheap black plastic chassis on their lower-end models for something a little more refined. We also hope the company has the good sense to include a touchscreen on as many models as possible. Windows 8 is much more frustrating without one.

Meanwhile, HP plans on upping the quality of its chassis in its business line. The company currently uses metal chassis in about 20% of the line, but supply orders suggest that number will rise to 50 percent by the end of the year. We’ve always liked many of HP’s designs, especially the Pavilion DM1z, though the Envy laptops look a little too much like Apple’s MacBook Pro. HP is also upping its ante in the tablet game with plans for a variety of Android and Windows 8 slates, including a low-cost Android tablet  that will compete with the $200 Nexus 7. This is all part of HP’s quest to take the title of number one computer vendor back from Apple.