Acer Extend concept is a smartphone workstation, we go hands-on (video)

In addition to letting us get our hands on all its IFA announcements today, Acer pulled back the curtain on a concept device. The Acer Extend prototype works similarly to the ASUS Padfone, letting you connect your smartphone to a clamshell-style dock with a display, keyboard and a 6,000mAh battery to recharge your handset.

For the purposes of the demo, a modified version of Acer's Liquid E2 smartphone was connected to the Extend dock via an MHL cable, though company reps said a market-ready version could include a retractable cord. Even more compelling, though, would be a wireless, Bluetooth-based solution.

In addition to offering much more screen real estate than a phone, the dock solution nets you a full-size, tactile keyboard, and Acer's optimized island-style layout to work with a smartphone's operating system. To that end, there are buttons for Mail, WiFi, Bluetooth and more -- more or less the options you'll find in an Android phone's Settings menu. Though the keyboard is tailored to a smartphone interface, the Extend lets you view apps such as Gmail in tablet format, meaning you'll reap the full benefits of the larger display. There's also a full-size touchpad on board.

If you care to do a little mobile gaming with your workstation, the Extend lets you use your smartphone as a controller, while audio and visuals are directed to the dock's screen. When we got a demo of this setup with Riptide GP 2, it worked without a hitch. Overall, the system works perfectly well -- we just wonder if it's worth carrying along the Extend dock when it's not much larger than many Ultrabooks on the market.

Acer emphasizes that the Acer Extend is a concept device, but it must feel pretty confined in its marketability; a rep told us the product could potentially launch in Q1 2014. Does that mean we just got a sneak peak at Acer's lineup for CES? Hard to say, but you can enjoy our hands-on video in any case.

Zach Honig contributed to this report.