rAge 2015 was a total blast. Friday saw me meeting up with a number of interesting people from companies participating in the expo and one of these was Acer, in partnership with Rectron. I met up with Acer country manager Paul Collins to talk about Acer’s growing interest in South Africa, and spent a little bit of time looking at the Predator family itself.
While I’m most definitely a tech person through and through, I wasn’t solely interested in the devices as they stood on the stand. After all, many companies love to showcase their brand and product at events like these, but occasionally they don’t bring any of those products into South Africa. For instance I had interviewed Razer EMEA spokesperson Jan Horak at rAge 2013, and looked at many, many wonderful products that would ultimately never make it into retail stores locally. I played with a Razer Blade, but was told that Razer didn’t have any plans for distribution. When asked what was coming out of the products he showcased, he told me that it was mainly the peripherals, headsets and mousepads. I never wrote up that interview.
It was up to Paul, and Acer Africa product business unit manager Riaad Mangera, to put my mind at ease. I’ve selected some of the more interesting questions that came up during the brief session.
How important is South Africa to Acer? Why have you chosen rAge expo to showcase your product?
Paul: “We’re extremely excited to be here [at the expo] for the first time, actually. South Africa has always been an important part of our global reach because it is an emerging market that tends to buy into a lot of new technology, something that we don’t often see a lot of elsewhere. We’ve been here for many, many years, but mostly in the consumer and business side of the market. We’ve had time, for example, to work on our relationships with distributors here and we even have our own repairs channel. This country is just filled with people who love technology and we’re always looking to see how we can do better.”
“As for why we’re here at rAge, we really want to target the gamers with our new Predator range, almost all of which is on display here. Our Predator family is the first lineup that we’ve dedicated to gamers and we hope that they love them as much as we do.”
So has the Predator brand made a bit of a comeback after being in hiatus for a while?
Paul: “Not a hiatus, I’d say. We’ve always had an active “Predator” brand, but this year we’re taking it to higher levels. We decided, after seeing gaps in the market where our competitors weren’t offering what gamers wanted, to provide a solution that was attractive to them. We’ve seen some other brands do this well, some others half-heartedly, and we really want to give it our best so that the gamers themselves can feel it.”
I really like the design of these new products. The orange theme is still there, but much more subtle. Have you had any response from customers about the designs?
Riaad: “We have, and they’re overwhelmingly positive. Something that actually surprised us, in fact, was how many business customers asked for our Nitro series of notebooks for work uses. There are still a lot of business users out there unsatisfied with “business” notebooks that are either underpowered or ugly, or just badly designed from an ergonomics standpoint. Our Nitro series is also slimmer than many designs out there, and it looks good, too. We’re hoping that the Predator lineup strikes the same chords as well.”
In terms of when these products are actually getting here, is there a time frame for that?
Paul: “Myself and Riaad here have worked hard on getting an initial shipment in as soon as possible, and I can tell you that we have one on the way, due to land in about a month or two’s time. We’ll have everything available that you see here today, including the Predator notebooks, the G6 desktops, the Predator 8 gaming tablet, even the Aspire V Nitro laptop family with Intel Skylake inside. Its going to be an amazing lineup for this holiday season. I can’t discuss pricing yet, though, the exchange rate is always a fickle thing.”
There are some products not seen here that have only recently been announced, like the Predator 6 and the gaming projector. Will you also bring those in when they’re available?
Paul: “Definitely! The gaming laser projector will be the most interesting, I’ll bet. No-one else currently makes a laser projector for gaming, and certainly no-one makes a display 120 inches in size for gaming purposes.”
I know, though, that it doesn’t work like a normal projector. Can you perhaps tell me any specifics about it?
Riaad: “Because it’s a laser projector, there doesn’t need to be a huge distance between it and the wall to project an image on to it. We’ve made that product so that you could put it up to two metres away from the wall, and it’ll still give you a display that measures about 100 inches diagonally. It can also be slightly below your view and still project upwards on to your chosen surface without a problem, so it solves a range of problems that may have been holding people back from using a projector for their gaming.”
Is there anything that you guys are interested to see here at rAge? Any games you’re interested in?
Paul: “I’m not really much of a gamer these days. I cut my teeth on older arcades and older consoles like the N64. Those were wonderful times though, very formative for my childhood. My kids play games, though, so I’ve made a little hovel for them where they have everything set up, and they can escape there if they want to. ”
Riaad: “I’d play more games but time is very limited for me these days. Battlefront looks amazing, though…”