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Acer is taking to the big screen.

The San Jose, Calif., PC maker on July 31 said it has begun offering its mega-desktop replacement, the Aspire 9800, which features a 20.1-inch widescreen display.

Acer, which has been gaining worldwide market share in recent quarters, is aiming for students or small home office workers who are looking for a combination of productivity and entertainment.

As such, it says the Aspire 9800—which it said in a statement starts at $2,799—has the chops for graphics design or to display high-definition movies, including a high-definition DVD-ROM drive, dual hard drives and a Nvidia graphics processor.

The Aspire 9800’s 20.1-inch widescreen—which is 36 percent larger than a 17-inch widescreen, according to the company—offers a pixel resolution of 1,680 by 1,050, otherwise known as WSXGA+, the company said in a statement.

Click here to read more about the move toward widescreen displays in notebooks.

The Aspire notebook comes with Nvidia’s GeForce Go graphics chips, a TV tuner and features such as a remote control. Its HD-DVD drive can read high-definition DVD discs as well as burn formats such as DVD+RW and DVD-RMW, the company said.

A basic configuration of the machine includes the 20.1-inch screen along with an Intel Core Duo T2600 processor running at 2.16GHz, 2GB of RAM, twin 120GB hard drives, the HD-DVD drive, a memory card reader, Wi-Fi 802.11 wireless and even a built-in 1.3-megapixel camera, Acer’s Web site shows.

Buyers will pay a weight penalty, however, for the machine’s big screen. The Aspire 9800 clocks in at 17.2 pounds, or close to 8 kilograms, and is nearly 19 inches wide, 14 inches deep and 2.5 inches thick, the Acer site says.

But, thus far, only a handful of notebooks on the market today in the United States offer screens that are larger than 17 inches.

Click here to read more about manufacturers plans to offer lightweight laptops.

Dell’s XPS 2010, one such machine that also offers a 20.1-inch widescreen, can fold into a briefcase-like form with a handle.

It comes with a Core Duo processor from Intel, dual hard drives and graphics from ATI Technologies for a starting price of $3,500, according to Dell’s Web site.

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