Taiwanese PC-maker Acer's latest offering illustrates the state of play in the laptop market, in a tablet-obsessed world
There is life left in laptops, even if all the hype today surrounds tablets and netbooks. The Acer Aspire 5742-7120 Notebook Computer is a value 15.6in model priced at around $559 in the US, £400 in the UK.
Even with a lower-end price, the laptop still packs a fair punch. It has an i3-370M series processor from Intel (dual-core, 2.4GhZ), which is at the entry level of the chip giant's latest Core releases. However, this is capable of driving a 1366x768pi 16:9 HD display. The computer typically runs Windows 7 Home Premium. The hard-disk offers 320GB of storage.
There is also a Broadcom 802.11n-capable WLAN module, as well as a lithium ion six-cell battery. The Aspire then comes with a CD/DVD RW optical drive and an integrated 1.3MP webcam.
This Aspire is perhaps most interesting as a demonstration of the state-of-play in mass-market laptop design and specification, as Acer's market position would suggest. The company is the third largest shipper of notebooks, selling about 40 million units every year.
Acer has had troubles of late, however. It was the leading notebook producer but has been battered by competition from Hewlett-Packard and Asustek, and CEO Gianfranco Lanci resigned in late March. Nevertheless, lifetime manufacturing units for this design could exceed 12'million.
The main motherboard of the 5742 integrates a range of silicon alongside the Intel chipset: a battery charger, keyboard controller, Ethernet controller, translator, audio codec, clock synthesiser and memory card reader controller. Interface boards then handle USB, the touchpad, memory, WLAN and optical drivers.
The model that featured in the IHS iSuppli teardown was manufactured in China. Acer uses three contract manufacturers for the work, Compal, Wistron and Quanta. Respectively, they make up 44.2'per cent, 32.6 per cent and 21.9 per cent of total output. The bill of materials for this laptop is $384.26, rising to $392.61 adding in manufacturing.
As ever, it should be noted that iSuppli's costs here do not include those above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device. Exceptions would include the cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees not already included in the per-component price, software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers.
Total component count for the Aspire 5742 is 1,595 (excluding box contents). 'Of these 1,192 reside on the motherboard. This level of complexity is on par with comparable notebook computers we have analysed,' said Wayne Lam, iSuppli's principal analyst.
Analyst group IHS iSuppli provides detailed teardowns for many leading electronics devices. Find out more about its commercial reports at www.isuppli.com.