Intel's Thunderbolt remains high-end rarity as Acer drops out

c|net by Stephen Shankland

Windows computer maker Acer decides USB 3.0 is a better deal than Intel's high-speed communications technology. And despite notable newer fans, including Dell, HP, and Asus, Thunderbolt remains scarce.

In 2012, Acer became the first Windows PC maker to embrace Thunderbolt, Intel's super-fast communication technology. But that enthusiasm didn't carry past mid-2013.

The utility and ubiquity of performance improvements of USB, combined with Thunderbolt's high cost, led Acer to drop the port from its machines last week.

"We're really focusing on USB 3.0 -- it's an excellent alternative to Thunderbolt," Acer spokeswoman Ruth Rosene said. "It's less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals," she said, mentioning external hard drives, flash drives, keyboards, mice, and gamepads.

It's a loud vote of no confidence from a Taiwanese company that has risen through the ranks to become a top laptop manufacturer and that has just updated its PC product line sans Thunderbolt.

But Intel isn't thwarted in its ambition to spread Thunderbolt widely, even if not to low-budget segments of the industry. "PC adoption is increasing," said Jason Ziller, director of Intel's Client Connectivity Division.

"There are more than a dozen new 4th-generation Intel Core processor-based platforms already launched with Thunderbolt, including from Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and others, with more coming throughout 2013," Ziller added. "Thunderbolt is targeted toward premium systems. It is not targeted to be on mid-range or value systems in the next couple of years." read more...

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