Acer Aspire Switch 11 V full review

Following Microsoft’s blueprint, Acer has been loyally building convertible tablet-laptops for Windows 8, when the OS developer became hell-bent on making Windows touchable in a post-iDevice world. The Aspire Switch 11 V is a subtly upgraded version of last year’s 2-in-1 Switch 11, now headlining with Windows 10, an improved screen, and 800MHz Intel Core M processor in place of 1.5GHz Core i3. See also: Best ultraportable laptops

Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

The Switch is essentially an 11.6in Windows tablet with a custom keyboard that snatches into place with magnets. Once docked you get the benefit of real keys and a buttonless trackpad, these talking to the tablet through shiny contacts rather than Bluetooth. Like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, the hinged screen becomes continuously movable to adjust rake; but similarly to the last Switch 11, the ensemble is far too back-heavy. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

There’s no extra battery in the keyboard, which is a shame as battery life still falls short – just 4 hr 45 min in our streaming video test, where an iPad goes twice the distance. It's doubly disappointing when last year’s Switch 11 ran almost as long with a real Core i3 chip. The Core M is Intel's ulta-low-power processor but clearly this setup isn't as efficient as it could be.

On some variants you can get additional storage in the keyboard, if only a whirring mechanical disk (500GB), but it's useful to complement the tablet’s M.2 flash drive.

See also: Hands-on with the Microsoft Surface Book

As a tablet the Acer weighs around 760g – or approaching twice the weight of an admittedly smaller iPad Air 2 – and this mass can swell to a portly 1.6kg combined with keyboard. At 24mm thick, the Acer is too outsized for the ultrabook club.

Tablet I/O includes microSDXC slot, Micro HDMI and USB 2.0. Charging is through a separate DC inlet, using an unsightly cable with spindly plug halfway up the laptop screen.

Aspire Switch 11 V review

Acer Aspire Switch 11 V SW5-173 review: Performance

The Core M processor means fanless operation, but only by aggressive throttling it back to maintain cool. PCMark 8 Home gave the Acer just 1916 points, where sub-2000 scores frequently equate to ‘annoyingly slow’ real-world performance. Windows 10 at least felt reasonably swift thanks to responsive flash storage.

Unlike an iPad, or even an Asus Zenbook running the same Core M chip with HD Graphics 5300, action gaming is out. We found the Switch 11 V averaged just 23fps in Tomb Raider at 720p and the lowest possible detail.

Compared to iPad Air 2, Geekbench showed the Acer’s processor and memory were faster single-core mode (2208 vs 1815 points) but 14 percent slower multi-core (3975 vs 4515 points).

Following Apple, Acer has eliminated the air gap under the top glass that makes shiny screens less comfortable to view, with a full-HD IPS panel of some merit. Colour gamut was only 74 percent sRGB but it had good contrast (740:1) and wide viewability. Judged by eye, it’s a sharp and vibrant screen.

Specs

Acer Aspire Switch 11 V: Specs

  • 11.6-inch (1920 x 1080) 190ppi IPS gloss touchscreen
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 800MHz Intel Core M-5Y10c (2.0GHz Turbo) 2C, 4T
  • Intel HD Graphics 5300
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 128GB M.2 SATA Revision 3.0 SSD
  • 802.11ac dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1x Micro-USB 2.0 (tablet) 1x USB 3.0 (keyboard)
  • Micro HDMI
  • microSDXC card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 0.9Mp front camera, 2.1Mp rear camera
  • single mic
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • detachable UK tiled keyboard and buttonless trackpad
  • 35Wh lithium-ion polymer battery, non-removable
  • 45 W mains charger with IEC C5 inlet
  • 298 x 205 x 23.8mm (9.3mm tablet)
  • 1569g (761g tablet + 808g keyboard)