Acer’s “antimicrobial” laptops have been around for a few years, but they became especially notable during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the interest in being extra clean was particularly high. At the [email protected] event today, the company announced three new PCs – a laptop, a two-in-one and a tablet – that will be added to the antimicrobial lineup.
What does “antimicrobial” actually mean?
Something is considered antimicrobial if it is capable of destroying or inhibiting “the growth of microorganisms, especially pathogenic microorganisms.” That means it fights disease-causing things you can’t see.
Acer claims that its Antimicrobial 360 Design, as it highlights function, fights germs in two ways.
First, high-touch surfaces such as the exterior and hinge of the chassis, keyboard, touchpad and fingerprint reader are coated with a silver ion agent. For years, research has pointed to the ability of silver ions to fight bacteria. As a more recent report published in ACS Applied Bio Materials explains, “They can readily adsorb to most biomolecules (DNA, membrane protein, enzymes or intracellular cofactors) in bacteria to inactivate their functions.”
Acer’s silver ion agent complies with the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Biocidal Products Regulation; it can reduce the number of bacteria to 1,000 after a 99.9 percent reduction, based on the International Organization for Standardization 22196 test protocol. The 22196 standard specifies methods for testing the “antibacterial activity of antibacterial-treated plastics and other non-porous surfaces of products.”
The products also use Corning Gorilla Glass coated with the silver ion product. “This is done through trace amounts of silver ions that leach onto the glass surface to eliminate the surface bacteria while still providing other benefits such as improved durability and improved scratch resistance,” Acer said.
Acer added new antimicrobial PCs to its lineup in 2020, but it is still being added to the roster. The company sees its antimicrobial coating expanding even further “across multiple product lines,” an Acer spokesperson told Ars.
The latest additions to Acer’s cootie-fighting collection are the TravelMate Spin P4 (available in January and starting at $1,100), a business two-in-one with up to an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 vPro CPU and 1TB SSD.
Acer is also releasing two waterproof, rugged systems. The Enduro Urban N3 14-inch laptop (launching in the fourth quarter, starting at $850) has an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 and has an Nvidia GeForce MX330 GPU. The Enduro Urban T3 (released early next year, starting at $300) is a 10-inch Android 11 tablet with an octa-core MediaTek MT8385, 65 GB of ROM for storage and 4 GB of RAM.
The Acer VE246Q stands out as the only PC monitor to be announced with the antimicrobial stamp. The housing and cover glass are made from recycled plastic coated with silver ions. However, the 23.6-inch VA display is only sold in Taiwan.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on October 14 to clarify the link between antibacterial products and the COVID-19 pandemic.