Acer Aspire Switch 10: Versatile Windows hybrid (review)

Acer Aspire Switch 10: Versatile Windows hybrid (review)

Summary: Windows 8 supports several form factors and this hybrid from Acer can morph into most of them.

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  • Acer has released the Aspire Switch 10, a tablet that ships wiith a keyboard dock that turns it into a laptop. It uses a unique magnetic hinge that lets the Switch 10 do more than most Windows hybrids.

    The term "hybrid" fits the Switch 10 as it can assume four configurations instead of the typical two for most devices of this type. The screen is detachable, yielding a thin and light tablet to rival with most competing devices. Pop the tablet into the keyboard dock and you have a good Windows laptop complete with a nice trackpad. Flip the tablet into the dock backwards and you have a presentation mode that allows using the keyboard with the display facing backwards. Finally, you can set the tablet and keyboard dock up in an inverted "V" to watch videos in the tent mode.

    Hardware as reviewed:

    Processor AtomTM Quad-Core Processor Z3745 1.33GHz
    Display 10.1-inch, 1,366 x 768, IPS
    Memory 2GB
    Storage 64GB
    Communications 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
    Camera Front: 2MP 1080p; Rear: none
    Ports Tablet: microUSB 2.0, microHDMI, audio  Keyboard: USB 2.0
    Battery 5910mAh, 8 hours
    Dimensions

    Tablet 10.3 x 6.97 x 0.35 inches; 261.6 x 177.1 x 8.9 mm

    Tablet and Keyboard: 10.3 x 7.57 x 0.8 inches; 261.6 x 192.4 x 20.2 mm

    Weight

    Tablet: 1.29 lbs; 0.58 kg

    Tablet and keyboard: 2.58 lbs; 1.17 kg

    Switch 10 as tablet

    The Aspire Switch 10 tablet is only 1.29 pounds and 0.35 inches thin making it a very portable device. The 10.1-inch screen has a standard resolution of 1,366 x 768 so it's not the highest resolution display. That resolution works well using Windows 8.1 in desktop mode so it's a reasonable tradeoff to keep the cost down. It's an IPS display and the viewing angles are good.

    There are a number of ports and slots on the tablet -- microSD, microUSB 2.0, microHDMI, and audio in/out jack. There is an additional USB 2.0 port on the keyboard dock. Acer obviously chose to save money by using the older USB 2.0 technology instead of the current 3.0, a real shame.

    Communications for the Switch 10 is through wi-fi a/b/g/n using MIMO dual-band. There is no LTE option available. Bluetooth 4.0 is also supported.

    Acer claims 8 hours of battery life and in preliminary testing this seems to be accurate. There is no battery in the keyboard dock to extend time away from an outlet.

    The Aspire Switch 10 is very comfortable to use in the hand for extended periods. The edges of the tablet are flat and feel natural when holding the tablet. The only complaint is that like many OEMs, Acer chose to use a touch Windows button on the bezel instead of a physical button. Using the tablet in the hand results in regular inadvertent touches, interrupting the session by jumping to the Start screen.

    There is a 2MP webcam on the tablet face capable of 1080p HD. Note there is no rear-facing camera for those who find that important.

    It's a laptop

    Acer has produced a unique hinge on the keyboard dock (which is included with the tablet). It is comprised of two pieces into which the tablet is inserted for use as a laptop. The connection is via strong magnets and the tablet is easy to insert into the dock as a result.

    This hinge is rigid enough to hold the screen firmly in place and requires a bit of force to remove the tablet from the dock. This rigidity makes it possible to use the Switch 10 in tent mode, an inverted "V", which makes it handy for using in tight spaces like crowded seats on flights.

    This docking system also supports inserting the tablet into the dock backwards. This could be useful for giving presentations with the screen facing backward while still using the keyboard.

    The keyboard on the Switch 10 is OK but nothing special. The keys support rapiid touch typing. They are not backlit. The trackpad on the keyboard dock is decent for such a peripheral, and has no buttons.

    Conclusion

    The Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a solid Windows 8.1 hybrid consisting of a decent tablet and solid keyboard dock. The current generation Atom processor is a good performer and runs Windows well.

    The Switch 10 is a highly portable laptop that takes advantage of Windows 8.1. Both trackpad and touch screen operation work as expected in Windows.

    This hybrid is a good value, priced at $429.99 as reviewed. There are cheaper models available starting at $379.99. This makes the Switch 10 a good choice for those on a tight budget.

    Pros:

    • Versatile
    • Good tablet
    • Unique keyboard dock

    Cons:

    • USB 2.0 instead of 3.0
    • Touch Windows button

    Reviewer's rating: 8 out of 10

  • Comfortable in the hand as a tablet

    The Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a good tablet weighing in at 1.29 pounds.

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Reviews, Tablets, Windows 8

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14 comments
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  • No pen?

    Not interested.
    AN O'Nymous
    • No Pen

      Not interested. Totally agree. Also a pixelated display.
      MichaelInMA
      • Re: No Pen....

        So the omission of a Pen is what decides whether you purchase a product or not even though it could offer a improved package to that of the Surface Pro 3 ?

        If a Pen is that much of a factor there are plenty of third party solutions.
        5735guy
        • no there isn't

          You can't just add-on a pressure sensitive digitizer to a tablet screen.
          warboat
  • How would you compare it to the ASUS T100 from standpoint of peformance

    features, etc...? I know the form factors are a little different, but pricing would seem to be somewhat similar (T100 maybe a little less). Is performance of the Acer better ?
    jkohut
    • Re: Switch compared to the T100

      Good question. The build quality on the Switch is much better as is the track pad, keyboard dock and display. The processor is also a bit faster.

      The T100 is almost a year older, about $50 dollars cheaper and has usb 3.0 in the keyboard dock, which isn't trivial because many people will hook up these small hybrids to a hub and share the bandwidth to a number of different devices. The usb 2.0 on the newer Switch would severely limit its performance in that sort of situation.
      mfgillia
      • Battery life

        is also better by about two hours on the T100
        mfgillia
  • Windows RT?

    I presume this is full Windows and not Windows RT? I realize it doesn't say RT anywhere in the article but I'm not sure that's definitive.

    Assuming it is full Windows I've never been impressed with the user experience of an Atom based netbook. If this hybrid doubles as a laptop how does it compare to a full powered laptop or is that unfair at this price point?

    I'm wondering if this is a competitor of the Surface Pro 3.
    MajorlyCool
    • the new Atoms

      Are nothing like the old Atoms.
      These have around 60% of the processing power of an i5 where the older Atoms hardly had 15%
      warboat
    • Windows RT for laptops / tablets

      is pretty much dead at this point. Some hard core RT lovers and those who have windows phones may disagree but after RT's intro year most vendors dropped it.

      Performance versus cost of RT on arm versus full windows on bay trail just didn't make sense to most consumers.
      mfgillia
  • Surface Pro 3 is starting out with i3 processor...

    and going up to i5 and i7 from there. Gotta figure that if you want horsepower, you are better off with SP 3, assuming you are fine with the price. To me, comparing it with T100 would be somewhat more comparable since it is not a "FULL" Intel processor device (i.e. i3, i5, i7 etc...)
    jkohut
    • Generally agree

      The Switch and T100 are below $450 2-1 hybrids. A comparable i core 3 Surface 3 with cover will cost more than twice as much.

      The new Surface is superior in most specs and has an outstanding digitizer for those that like writing on glass. A big advantage for the S3 for those who want to do serious work on their 2-1s is the Surface 3's dimensions - 3:2 aspect ratio and 12 inch screen - definitely a better size for productivity.

      On the other hand, the battery life is much better on the T100 and likely noticeably better on the Switch. And more disturbing - these budget tablets at less than half the price offer a much better laptop typing experience than the S3.
      mfgillia
  • I like acer notebook , very good

    I like acer notebook , very good
    I use the acer v5 I myself , Disadvantages : v5 Battery life is short.
    haomei
  • Too many deal-breakers...

    ...like:
    - No USB 3.0
    - Only 64 GB storage
    - Atom processor
    - Poor screen resolution
    - No OEM stylus
    jaykayess