Acer unveiled a line of multimedia-optimized laptops in New York on Wednesday at its splashy, first-ever US press conference, where it also announced the close of its acquisition of Dutch computer-maker Packard Bell.

Acer unveiled the Aspire 8920 and 6920 series of notebooks, with a new design the company is calling Aspire Gemstone "blue." The laptops, which come in both 18.4-inch and 16-inch versions, include a Blu-Ray disc drive, full high-definition (HD) LCD screens and support for the Dolby Pro Logic 2.0 surround-sound audio system.

Speaking at the press event on Wednesday, Senior Corporate Vice President Jim Wong said the new design is aimed at bringing a "true multimedia innovation" to the notebook form factor. The new notebooks are based on Intel Core 2 Duo processors and run either Windows Vista Ultimate or the Windows Vista Home Premium OS because of the multimedia functionality those OSes can deliver. However, Wong said Acer would consider running a different OS -- presumably Linux -- on machines that don't require rich multimedia capability.

The New York event, which featured white-clad models carrying the notebooks and an open bar, was a U.S. coming-out party of sorts for the Taiwanese computer-maker. Acer is eager to woo U.S. consumers now that it is offering not only its own notebooks here, but also eMachine computers from Packard Bell and PCs from U.S. computer-maker Gateway, the acquisition of which Acer revealed last August.

In his first official press appearance in the U.S., Acer President Gianfranco Lanci clarified Acer's branding strategy going forward, saying products from all three companies will remain in the market under their own names. "We didn't buy a company to kill the brand," he said.

Lanci said Acer plans to keep all three brands in the U.S. and Europe, although Gateway computers -- including the eMachines brand -- will be sold in "some countries only." In Asia and the U.S., the Acer and Gateway brands will be most prominent, including the Gateway eMachines brand in the U.S. Lanci said Acer is basing its brand distribution on how well the different products sell in each geographic area.

Having all three brands also will diversify Acer's market penetration across its three main geographical regions, broadening its reach in the U.S. while reducing the amount of business that comes from Europe, he added.

For the most part, Acer will keep the design of each of the three brands consistent with their current design. The new Aspire Gemstone "blue" design unveiled on Wednesday, for instance, will only be used for Acer notebooks.

More information about the new notebooks and the Aspire Gemstone "blue" design can be found on Acer's Web site.