Acer has announced a new mini laptop today powered by Intel’s new Atom chip that promises to challenge the Asus Eee PC and other ultraportable laptops as the market heats up.

Starting from £199, the Acer Aspire One (according to Acer a simple name for a simple product) will come with either Windows XP Home or Linux operating systems, and offer a 8.9-inch screen (1024 x 600) and either a 80GB hard drive or 8GB NAND flash drive.

There will also be a 5-in-1 memory card reader, and a second SD card slot which users can use to expand the memory via a system Acer calls the "Smart File Manager".

Users looking to work on the go are likely to be impressed by the promise of the 6 hours battery life mainly thanks to the Intel Atom chip not needing a fan for cooling.

On the connectivity front the laptop will sport Wi-Fi, and 3G will be available as an option in September (subject to operator agreements) while WiMAX connectivity has been confirmed as a future option but with no dates yet revealed.

Measurements are 24 x 17cm and it will weigh less than 1kg.

Like the Asus Eee, the Aspire One will offer users Linux as an operating system with a heavy customisation from Acer to make the interface easy for non-Linux users to use.

The pre-installed software is separated by functions and presented in four distinct areas on the screen: Connect, Work, Fun and Files.

Initially available in a glossy blue and white Acer says they will add two more colours later in the summer - pink and brown.

Acer has turned to Intel for the processor and the new model will feature the Intel Atom chipset alongside 512MB or 1GB of RAM.

The Acer Aspire One to cost £199 for the Linux version with 8GB NAND Flash and be available on 10 July. The Windows XP version will cost £299 and come with an 80GB hard drive.