Acer Aspire Switch 10 review: Hybrid laptop snaps to it

The Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a two-in-one laptop/tablet thanks to its nifty Snap Hinge. But it's not all it's cracked up to be.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10. Courtesy Acer
The Acer Aspire Switch 10. Courtesy Acer

“Can a machine be brilliant?” asks Acer in its advertising for the Aspire Switch 10, a two-in-one laptop, tablet.

Well, yes, of course it can, and in this instance Acer has produced a tidy piece of kit. But brilliant? No way.

First of all, let me briefly explain the concept of this hybrid gadget: this is a laptop with a screen that easily detaches, allowing you to carry it around without the keyboard.

The actual magnetic mechanism, known as the Snap Hinge, by which the laptop becomes a tablet, is hugely impressive, meaning even the most clumsy among us can separate them in an instant, and then reattach.

This is so multidimensional that you can also pivot the screen or flip it over so it stands like a tent. And if you want to get a little more excited, it runs on Windows 8.1, meaning you can download the Office package for all of your word processing and spreadsheet needs.

Like many jacks of all trades, however, I found the Aspire Switch to be a master of none.

In tablet mode the screen resolution was decent and at 10.1 inches big enough to watch films without having to strain the eyes.

The main problem was the sensitivity of the screen – this is no Apple iPad. Time and again my touches were either ignored or resulted in zooming in and out. Infuriating.

When using the device as a laptop I suffered similar frustrations trying to manoeuvre the cursor using the trackpad. I went from scrolling down using the keyboard to instead using the touch-screen and then back to the keyboard to find a way to get the page to move.

Acer is trumpeting the Switch as a way to boost productivity “no matter where your journey takes you”. After the time it took me to write a simple letter using Word and then attach it to an email, it would have been quicker to drive the 20 minutes to the office and use the desktop there.

These niggles aside – and I am sure that over time my productivity may have improved once I became more used to it – the Switch is worth a look for those whose budget does not extend to purchasing both a laptop and tablet, particularly as it has been retailing at between Dh1,000 and Dh1,300.

The hybrid concept is not far off from being brilliant, just do not expect to find something akin to an iPad connected to a Macbook Pro in the case of the Switch 10.

Q&A

Could you replace your desktop computer with one of these, then?

It would be a big mistake if you did. It chugs along with a 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor and has 2GB of RAM, plus 32GB SSD of storage, which isn’t much. The Switch 10 is better suited to being used on the move.

OK, so it doesn’t pack much of a punch, but it looks quite cute.

Absolutely. It’s so lightweight – at 1.17kg – that you don’t need to give a second thought to whether you want to leave the keyboard behind if you plan on using only the tablet on your travels. On the downside, the keyboard feels cheap and plasticky.

Are there many alternatives on the market?

Plenty. You can take your pick from offerings by the likes of Asus, Lenovo and Dell, while the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is generally regarded as the best – though it also costs nearly Dh4,000.

Anything else interesting about the Switch?

The pre-loaded Kindle app is fantastic. As a prolific digital reader, I was chuffed to find the app on the home screen and all of my books displayed in glorious colour once I had entered my Amazon log-in details.

If I fly to New York for the New Year will the battery still be going when I get there?

Unless they bring Concorde back, that is unlikely. On continuous video playback you can expect a little over six hours, so there’s plenty of time to bunker down with a few films before reaching for the charger.

ioxoborrow@thenational.ae

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Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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