- Slick performance
- Plasticky design
We review the clever Acer Aspire Switch 10 tablet, which converts into a mini Windows 8 laptop or a stand-up screen thanks to the swanky bundled keyboard dock.
Acer’s latest tab, the Aspire Switch 10, isn’t just your bog-standard Windows 8 tablet. By snapping on the bundled keyboard dock, you can turn it into a full-on Windows laptop or a standy-uppy movie screen – and all for just £337. But is it much cop?
Acer Aspire Switch 10 design and features: Chunky chappy
The Switch 10 tablet on its own is quite a chunky fella, and weighs a surprising amount despite the plasticky build. We had no problem clutching it two-handed for the duration, but holding in one hand for prolonged sessions might be a bit much. The rear of the tablet is a bit soft, flexing in with even a slight prod, but thankfully the screen is a lot firmer, to avoid potential display damage.
Our review model had a respectable 32GB of storage packed inside, but you can upgrade to 64GB if you need to carry tons of software around. You also get a microSD card slot on the side of the tablet, plus micro USB (can’t be used for charging) and mini HDMI ports.
You don’t get a rear-facing camera, something to be applauded really, as taking photos with tablets is just plain wrong. However, the Switch 10 does sport a basic front-facing camera for Skyping your buddies or work colleagues. Images are a little dark and grainy at times, but not to a troublesome degree, and the lens certainly does its job.
Acer Aspire Switch 10 keyboard dock: Slot it in
The Switch 10 tablet’s main selling point is the nifty bundled keyboard dock, which quickly and easily converts the tab into a full-on mini laptop. Magnets help to guide the tablet into place, and the two hook up cleanly and firmly, with no force or fumbling required. We tried gripping the Switch by the keyboard and shaking hard, and the tablet remained locked in place, rather than tumbling free and smashing into a gazillion pieces. Phew.
We found the keyboard was great for its size, and a real aid to staying productive on the go. Buttons are well-sized and separated out nicely, and the only irritation worth mentioning is the tiny arrow keys, which have Page Up and Down buttons wedged in right beside them. We were regularly mis-hitting and skipping around our documents unwillingly, but perhaps you won’t be as fat-fingered as us.
Not only can you still use full touchscreen controls, but you get a mini touchpad if you want to rock it old school. We tried not to use the touchscreen too much in laptop mode, as the tablet is considerably heavier than the keyboard, so prodding the screen often made the thing tip over. But it’s nice to have the flexibility and choose your preferred method.
Another neat feature of the Switch 10 is that you can flip the screen at any time and have the tablet propped up, for watching movies, displaying recipes and so on. It’s a funky little trick that works well.
Acer Aspire Switch 10 performance: Works a charm
The Switch 10’s 1.33GHz quad-core Intel processor, backed up by a solid 2GB of RAM, makes for a smooth and satisfying Windows 8 experience. And yep, it’s full Windows 8 on here (32-bit version), not that Windows 8 RT nonsense, so you can install any Windows software your beating heart desires.
Obviously the integrated graphics can’t handle the very latest PC games, but we happily ran a number of indie games and some titles that are a couple of years old. Windows 8 itself runs beautifully too, with fast loading times.
Battery life is respectable too, keeping you going all day if you’re just playing around with docs. If you want to stream media on full screen brightness, you can expect a reasonable five hours of playback.
Acer Aspire Switch 10 screen and media: Rainbow coloured
We quite like the Switch 10’s vibrant ten-inch screen, which really brings the bright Windows 8 desktops to life. We had no trouble using the display even with irritating glare reflecting off it, thanks to the respectable brightness levels, and viewing angles are pleasingly wide.
That said, the 1366×768 resolution is a little lower than we’d have liked. We still enjoyed kicking back with a movie, but if you’re after a tablet that’ll make the most of your HD films, we’d have to recommend something like the similarly-priced Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 instead.
If you’re not too bothered about uber-crisp visuals, the Switch 10 does just fine, and the stereo speakers put out some decent power. We used the tablet, in upside-down mode, to watch some Netflix while slaving in the kitchen, and the sound of frying meat and bubbling soup was nicely drowned out by our video.
Acer Aspire Switch 10 verdict
As long as you can overlook the plasticky build and low-res screen, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a solid device for staying productive on the go. You can download any Windows software you like, and the keyboard is fine despite its size for bashing out essays and emails.
If you’re a bit strapped for cash but like the idea of the Aspire Switch 10, or you’d prefer a device like this that runs Android instead, Acer’s big rival Asus has just the ticket – its new Transformer Pad TF103C, which runs Android KitKat and costs just £240 for tablet and dock. Our full review is coming imminently…