The Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro is a little cheaper than a Surface Pro 3 or Yoga Pro 3 — but there’s a reason for that.
Everyone, it seems, is doing convertible laptops these days with split tablet sections. In a way, that’s been an inevitability ever since the serious money started to flow into Apple’s coffers since the launch of the first iPad, and a sour note for Microsoft, given it had been pushing touch-based Windows computing for more than a decade previously.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro is Acer’s latest effort in this market, pitched at businesses and students. It’s a smaller convertible device with a 1920 x 1200 pixel 10.1 inch display, detachable keyboard and included stylus. Under the gorilla glass display lurks an Intel Atom Z3735F 1.33GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage running Windows 8.1.
The tablet part of the Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro features power, microUSB, HDMI and microSD slots on the left hand side and volume, power and a dedicated Windows key on the right side.
Slotting it into the keyboard dock is a painless procedure, and while the keyboard base is quite light, it’s solid enough to hold the display screen up even when used on a lap. It is a little disappointing that the only peripheral bonus you get from the keyboard dock is a single USB port on the right hand side.
One nice touch here is that the laptop dock doesn’t care which direction the tablet section is connected from, which means you can also fold it fully down for a heavier tablet with its extra USB port, or in tent or reverse screen modes for presentation purposes.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro is touchscreen ready, but also includes a stylus pen if you’re the writing-on-glass-surfaces-and-pretending-they’re-paper-type. It’s not quite as nice in feel or weight as the pen that comes with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, but you’d expect that at this price point.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro isn’t blessed with the best of keyboards. There’s a fair amount of travel in the keys, which is a plus, as is the spacing between keys which is as generous as could be expected on an 11 inch tablet keyboard. Individual keys have no weight behind them, however, which ends up feeling a little cheap and hollow while you’re typing with them. It would also be wise to adjust Windows settings for keystroke repeat rates, as well, as the default setting leads to a lot of repeated keystrokes while typing.
Atom systems are built far more with battery life than pure processing power in mind, and running just a few benchmarks over the Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro confirms that. For those who are fussed, it scored 1224 in PCMark 8’s Home test, and 1084 in 3DMark’s Cloud Gate test, which is in line for what you’d expect out of a processor at this level. You won’t be able to push heavy video editing or games through the Switch 10 Pro, but at basic tasks it’s essentially capable without being notably quick.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro is rated by Acer as good for up to eight hours of battery life. In a straight looping video test, it managed to run for four hours and fifty five minutes, which is a little disappointing given Acer’s claims and the usual efficiency of Bay Trail processor based systems. That is, after all, the reason for opting for an Atom processor over a Core processor.
At $799, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro isn’t exceptional value, but it’s not terribly priced either. If you only need a basic machine but require the pen stylus input as well it could be a reasonable buy, but it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s not much of a gap up to the baseline specification Surface Pro 3 system from here, and that’s a much nicer machine overall.