NEW YORK: ACER UNVEILED the Aspire Switch 10 at an event in New York on Tuesday, a multi-mode laptop device that looks to rival Lenovo's Yoga tablets.
Despite Acer's pessimism surrounding Windows, the Switch 10 arrives running Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system, with the device's 10in touchscreen allowing users to navigate the software by touch. The add-on keyboard means the device can also be used as a laptop, and much like Lenovo's Yoga, the Aspire Switch 10 can also be transformed into a 'tent' mode.
Unlike Lenovo's Yoga hybrid, however, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 will launch with a mid-range £299 price, so we tried it hands-on to see how it stacks up.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 certainly feels more expensive than its price would suggest. Although it comes crafted almost entirely from grey plastic, the device's brushed-aluminium effect means it looks almost like a miniature Macbook. However, we're not sure that the Aspire Switch 10 could handle as many bumps as an Apple laptop, with the device feeling somewhat creaky in places.
The Aspire Switch 10's keyboard is very Macbook-like, too, and has a similar tactile feel. However, it soon became obvious that the keyboard lacks the comfort offered by a Macbook's keys, which hindered our typing speed.
The Aspire Switch 10's main design feature, however, is its magnetic 'snap hinge', which enables the device to be transformed into four different modes. The magnetic hinge feels tough, and meant we often found it tricky to remove the display from the attachable keyboard, so transforming the device from a laptop to a tablet can take a bit of force. We also found it a little fiddly to re-attach, although the hinge's magnetic force - once positioned correctly - pulls and firmly attaches it in place.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 is plenty slim and light enough. It's not as feather light as the smallest Macbook Air, but at 1.17kg, it shouldn't put too much strain on your shoulder. What's more, the tablet is not - unlike some similar devices - heavier than the add-on keyboard, which meant that we didn't have any trouble keeping the Aspire Switch 10 upright.
The screen on the Aspire Switch 10 is a 1366x768 display, and while we'd have preferred to see a full HD 1080p display, this entry-level screen likely helps keep the price low. The resolution is, as expected, nothing to shout about, but we didn't find it too much of an issue.
Acer's zero-gap display technology is included, which the firm claims makes the screen more vibrant than similarly specified displays on the market. We found this true during our hands-on with the Aspire Switch 10, and we found it also made the screen very responsive to touch.
Performance and software
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 has a 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3745 processor under the bonnet, with 2GB of RAM. While we haven't yet had an opportunity to put the device fully through its paces, we found that the device offered an all around fluid experience.
Windows 8.1 is Acer's operating system of choice for the Aspire Switch 10, despite the firm's initial worries about Microsoft's tiled OS. The device offers a full Windows 8 experience too, despite its low-end £299 price, making the Aspire Switch 10 an attractive choice for those in the market for an affordable Windows machine.
At £299, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a sound choice for those in the market for a hybrid Windows 8 device. While it lacks the top-end feel of Lenovo's Yoga line and Microsoft's Surface 2 tablets, it is a nicely designed device and doesn't make too many compromises.
Check back soon for our full Acer Aspire Switch 10 review. µ