NEW YORK: ACER’S SWITCH 5 is the company’s latest hybrid tablet-laptop, and its first 2-in-1 device to be powered by Intel’s latest 7th gen Core i7 chip.
Announced at the firm’s [email protected] event in New York this week, the device builds on the innovations of its predecessor, the Switch Alpha 12, and was launched alongside the Switch 3 (its less-powerful sibling) as well as what seemed to be hundreds of other devices, part of Acer’s full 2017 “back-to-school” product lineup.
We got our hands on the Switch 5 to see if it has what it takes for the competitive 2-in-1 market.
The Acer Switch 5 is made of an anodized aluminum, giving a good solid appearance. While the chassis makes it pleasant to fondle, in our hands on it lacked the real premium feel of the Surface Pro 4.
Like the Switch Alpha 12, the Acer Switch 5 has a Surface Pro-inspired design thanks to an auto-retracting kickstand so that it’s viewing angle can be easily adjusted. It also comes with an attachable backlit keyboard that snaps on with ultra-secure magnets which can be adjusted depending on user preference. Again, just like the Surface Pro 4.
Despite it small travel, the keyboard feels relatively good to type on, with typing feeling fluid in our tests. The large trackpad below it supports Windows 10 gestures and provided a smooth and responsive experience.
Acer’s new hybrid is also thin and light despite some pretty heavy power specs. It measures 12mm thick and weighs 1.27kg when the tablet and keyboard are connected. When undocked from the keyboard as a standard tablet, the Switch 5 tablet measures just 9.6mm thick and weighs 0.92kg. While it feels thin enough to be portable, the Switch 5 is chunkier than the Surface Pro 4. Nevertheless, it still felt like it had relatively slim design during our hands-on, especially considering its running such a powerful chip.
The Switch 5 features a 12in FHD+ IPS touch display that boasts a 2160×1440 resolution. The screen appeared crisp and bright in our tie with it, even in the brightly-lit environment of the outdoor demo area.
While colours appear natural, we felt they lacked a little in contrast and don’t ‘pop’ as much as they do on the Surface Pro 4 for instance, despite the display’s glossy finish. And that’s another problem; the lack of a matte finish means it picks up a lot of reflections, which can get irritating.
On the outside, the Switch 5 is a fairly standard hybrid, but under its hood Acer has done something pretty smart; fanless cooling. Using its proprietary LiquidLoop fanless cooling system, Acer claim it can keep the Switch 5 running efficiently without fan noise. The system works by dissipating heat as liquid floats through the machine. It takes up much less space than bulky fans this way, while keeping a stable temperature and running efficiently without fan noise and also provides improved reliability; and since no fan is present, the Switch 5 doesn’t require venting that can be compromised by airflow issues and dust accumulation.
As for specs, the Switch 5 boasts Intel’s latest 7th Gen chip, the Core i7, as well as up to 8GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM, meaning it’s super nippy when completing simple tasks. In our tests, the Switch 5 proved very responsive to our commands, opening apps in a flash. However, we would need longer with the device to see how well it fares with more intensive applications and benchmarking software.
Connectivity, battery and storage
The Switch 5 is a bit stingy with its ports, only offering one USB 3.1, a headphone jack, microSD slot and a single USB Type-C port. There is an optional dock that adds more connections though, including extra USB slots, and an HDMI port.
Acer says the Switch 5 will offer a 10.5-hour battery life on a single charge, powering up to 512GB PCIe SSD storage.
Pricing and availability
Due to be released in June with a starting price of €1,099 (around £925), the device will likely have the tough task of entering the competitive 2-in-1 market filled with hybrids. However, it might appeal to the power hungry user looking for a compact device to use while on the go.
Acer is up against some strong competition in the hybrid market, so it needed to bring its A game with the Switch 5. The solid and well built device has some impressive specs, so it might well have done that, but its high start price might well put some people off.
While businesses might see the appeal of the Switch 5’s docking capabilities, Acer might have a tough job attracting individual consumers away from the Microsoft’s Surface range and even Apple’s iPad Pro models. µ
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