Acer Adds Social-networking Button to New Laptops

Acer on Thursday announced Gateway laptops with keys that give one-touch access to social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Pressing the social-networking hot key on the new Gateway NV and ID series laptops activates an integrated widget through which customers can update their status, post messages or upload multimedia, or see updates from the feeds of friends.

The button's addition underscores the growing importance of social networking as an element in people's digital lives. On average, users are now spending one out of every six minutes of their online time on social networks, according to research published last month by ComScore. In 2007, one out of every 12 minutes was spent on social networks.

However, some laptop makers say such buttons could overwhelm users, and be an unnecessary addition when software could do the job. Laptop makers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell have said hot keys in some cases are unnecessary, especially on business laptops, and are removing keys such as the volume and other multimedia buttons from specific laptops.

Most of the new Gateway laptops have Intel's latest Core processors and USB 3.0 ports so high-speed peripherals like external hard drives can be attached. The laptops are available in U.S. and Canada.

The three new Gateway ID47 series laptop have an edge-to-edge 14-inch screen, allowing the laptop to fit into a chassis the same size as most 13.3-inch models. The laptops run Intel chips, weigh starting at 4.6 pounds (2.08 kilograms), offer up to eight hours of battery life, and are priced starting at US$699. The laptops support 4GB to 8GB of memory and up to 750GB of hard drive storage.

The two new Gateway NV series have 15.6-inch displays, with one model, the NV55S05U, based on AMD's new A8 quad-core processor. The NV55S05U, priced at $629.99, has up to 640GB of storage, weighs 5.7 pounds and offers four hours of battery life.

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