Positioned by Acer as “more than hardware, more than software”, the number two computer seller in the world today introduced their solution for integrating our digital homes called Clear.fi.
Clear.fi is a concept, a system, introduced by Acer that encompasses hardware and software components that together form an integrated media solution for homes.
You probably already watch TV, be it cable, satellite or downloaded content, enjoy content on your computer, smartphone or tablet, so wouldn’t it be nice if your content was available to all your devices with the same interface?
You may be outside of your home with your smartphone and interacting with different services in the public cloud, like take some pictures and sending them to a web site. When you come home the smartphone should automatically connect to the “home cloud,” as Acer calls it, and the smartphone should upload those pictures to the home cloud’s central storage making it available to all other devices connected.
That is what Acer Clear.fi offers. Acer will put the same interface on their computers, smartphones, and there’s also a interface for TV sets. Your content goes in one place and is accessible through easy networking powered by DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), a standard for sharing multimedia content in a local network.
At the core of Clear.fi is the Acer Revo and Revo Center. Acer Revo is a set-top box that fits in nicely next to the HD TV in your living room. It comes with a swappable hard disk and touch pad with full keyboard and other controls. It can connect to regular TV inputs like cable and satellite for recording TV, the Internet, well as your HD TV, of course. If you need more storage than the Revo offers, Acer also has the Revo Center with up to four hot-swappable SATA drives.
In a demo Acer showed how a user copied video from a smartphone to Revo center, watched it on their HD TV from Revo, watched in on an AIO PC in the kitchen, stored ebooks on a LumiRead ebook reader from another AIO, then used the LumiRead to enjoy a book in bed.
If all this doesn’t seem like such a big deal, it’s because it really isnt’? The technology to do this has existed for some time and other manufacturers have produced solutions that may not be as wide in scope but work well nonetheless.
Whether Clear.fi will work with devices and solutions from other manufacturers is unsure at this point. When asked that question at the event, Acer danced around the question and didn’t really answer it one way or the other. Presumably some functionality will be open to other manufacturer’s devices since DLNA is an open technology. Other aspects will be only for Acer products, one reason being that Acer will put a unified interface on all Clear.fi devices.
As I was writing this during the event I was thinking there’s an apparent gap in devices here. Acer showed All-In-One desktop PC, notebooks, settop box for TV and e-reader. But an e-reader is a very one-task oriented device, and a netbook may be small enough but it’s not as convenient to use in a living room sofa or in the bedroom as is a tablet. Adding a tablet to this Acer ecosystem seems like a no-brainer for consuming all this content that is made available through the Clear.fi system. And of course, Acer showed off a tablet right at the end of the event.
Central to this view of our digital world is touch. In his opening speech, Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci said that touch is becoming the standard interface, especially for the younger generation who may not yet be so used to keyboard and mouse. The importance of touch is clear in Acer’s product line with touch All-In-One PCs, touch notebooks, touch smartphones, touch remote control and now also a forthcoming touch tablet.
Acer did not have any example Clear.fi system set up for us to try. Hopefully we can try it back in Dubai soon so we can write about how it works.