The time of traditional laptop is over. People nowadays are attracted to laptops that can be used for multiple purposes. And that’s where hybrid laptops came in. Our reviewed Acer Aspire Switch 11 is one of them. And of course, a very good one!
Basically Acer Aspire Switch 11 is a detachable hybrid tablet and almost similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Without a doubt, Surface Pro 3 is superior, but it costs a lot. Also, most users don’t use demanding software on Phablet and would prefer a simple device for just little more than Microsoft Office on the move. And with an average performance and affordable price, a hybrid like Switch 11 can be the perfect choice. It can be used as a tablet when detached from the bottom part, or like a laptop when the two are attached. So, a fully functional Windows 8.1 tablet / laptop with a 1080p HD IPS touch screen and Core i3 processor and all that within $600, what could you want more.
Can be used both as laptop and tablet
Full HD 1080p IPS screen
Good battery life
Heavy for its class
Poor speaker quality
Bad touchpad performance
Model: Aspire Switch 11
Reviewed Model: SW5-171-39LB
Processor: Intel Core i3 4012Y 1.5 GHz
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4200
Memory: 4 GB LPDDR3
SSD: 128 GB
Optical Drive: none
Display Type: LED backlit IPS touch display
Screen Size: 11.6 inch
Screen Resolution: (1920×1080)
Audio: 2x stereo speakers
Keyboard: Detachable chiclet keyboard
Navigation: 4.1 x 2.3 inches touchpad
Video Ports: 1x micro HDMI
Audio Ports: Combo headphone/microphone jack
Total USB Ports: 2
USB 2.0 Ports: 1
USB 3.0 Ports: 1
Media Ports: micro SDHC
Wi-Fi: Qualcomm Atheros AR5BWB222
Battery: 3 cell 2850 mAh Lithium Ion battery
Battery Life: 6.5 hours
Width: 11.7 inch / 29.7 cm
Depth: 8.1 inch / 20.5 cm
Height: 1 inch / 2.5 cm
Weight: 3.4 pounds / 1.5 kg (with doc)
Operating System: 64 bit Windows 8.1
Warranty: 1 year Limited
Base Price: $649.99 on Amazon
Build and Design
Honestly, the Acer Aspire Switch 11 is beautiful neither as a laptop nor as a tablet. It lies somewhere between ordinary looking and ugly. The chassis is completely made of plastic. The design is unimaginative at best. The brushed silver finish on the rear side of the tablet element provides some relief from the dull dominance of plain gray plastic, but it hardly gives any elegant look. When opened up as a laptop, it looks slightly better, almost like an ugly version of the MacBook Air.
The tablet part is 0.4 inches thick and weighs 0.84 kg, considerably more than many other tablets. It really is pretty bulky and also heavy for a tablet. While on the other hand, the base unit only weighs 0.78 kg and since the bottom part is lighter, the laptop can easily tip over when the opening angle is too big.
The tablet and base unit are attached only by the magnetic fixation. There are no mechanical hooks or locks. This is somewhat better since you cannot break the joint by mistake. However, if you grab the laptop at the keyboard, the tablet part can be detached and fall on the ground.
Anyway, beside the build quality and odd dimensions, the rest of the laptop looks handsome. Silver aluminum coating with a shiny chrome Acer logo in the center.
The keyboard of the Switch 11 is overall good. Basically, it is a full sized chiclet keyboard lying on the removable dock port. The keys are flat and the lettering is sufficient. Sadly, there is no backlight. The keys are well-spaced and deliver decent feedback, the travel time of the key is 1.5mm. However, the keys are kind of bouncy in the center, which felt a little odd.
Along with the full size keyboard, the dock sports a 4.1 x 2.3 inch touchpad. It has good gliding capabilities and can be quickly operated. However, the travel time is long and feedback is not that good. Though I had no problem while I was navigating, it was hard to perform all kinds of Windows 8.1 gestures. Personally, I didn’t like the performance of the touchpad. But it shouldn’t be much of a problem as the screen is fully touch and supports up to 10 fingers.
For an additional $50, you can get an Acer Active Pen and personally I prefer it over the mediocre touchpad. It is more comfortable, faster and especially more precise on the screen compared with the touchpad performance and also the performance of the fingers on the touchscreen.
Like any other tablet, the Switch 11 doesn’t sport good connectivity feature. But luckily, it has more ports than almost any other 11 inch tablet.
On the left side, there are volume controller, power button, home button, along with a combined 3.5 mm stereo jack.
While on the right, there are the microphone, reset button, micro SDHC slot, micro HDMI, an USB 3.0 and the AC power connector.
Beside this, there is another USB 2.0 on the left side of the removable dock.
The Acer Aspire Switch 11 packs an 11.6 inch full HD (1920×1080) IPS touch display, protected by Gorilla Glass 3, which is typical for a good hybrid nowadays.
It’s nice and responsive and provides solid Image quality. Contrast and brightness are decent and the black levels in particular are quite good. Viewing angles aren’t terrific, thanks to the IPS screen. The 10 finger capacitive touch screen is also accurate and responsive.
However, in the brightest areas of a pictures it was hard for me to recognize all the small details and colors. Considering all the aspects, and the price, overall, it’s a good display.
There is a pair of front facing stereo speakers located just underneath the screen. The performance of the speakers is not really appealing. The sound is thin, focuses on the medium tones and the maximum volume is not really high and there was no sign of bass when I was listening to the music. So, if you want to enjoy music or movies, you will have to get external speakers, or a good headphone.
My reviewed version had an Intel Core i3-4012Y processor with Intel HD Graphics 4200, 128 GB of SSD and 4 GB of LPDDR3 memory.
When I compared this Switch 11 with Spectre X360, the Aspire Switch 11 was faster on the Adobe Photoshop CS6 test, but with the more powerful Intel Core i5 processor, the HP Spectre x360 won most of the benchmark tests. So, if you are planning to do heavy works, maybe you should consider the other version of Switch 11, which sport an I5 processor. But whatever the case is, you won’t be able to enjoy games with this HD 4200 graphics.
On the other hand, the 128 GB SSD in the tablet manages very good data transfer rate. It has a transfer rate of roughly 140 MB/s which is almost close to the Surface Pro 3 which has an average 145 MB/s transfer rate.
Heat and Noise
Just like other hybrids and Lenovo Yoga laptops, the Switch 11 has no HDD and sports a Fanless design. So, usually it is completely silent.
As good as it is, the Switch 11 runs cool and quiet under light to average workloads. When I surfed the internet and listened to the music or watched videos, it barely generated any noticeable heat. However, under heavy load, the situation changes dramatically.
The Switch 11 has many appealing features, but the battery life is not one of them. It sports a 3 cell 2850 mAh Lithium Ion battery. Though Acer claimed an 6 hour 30 minutes of battery life, when I was watching movie and browsing the internet, I could get a maximum of 5 hours 40 minutes out of it. This is really below the tablet average, as almost all tablets last more than 8 hours.
The version I reviewed, sports an 1.5 GHz i3 processor, 128 GB SSD and an 11.6 inch Full HD IPS display. The market price of this version is $649.99. But for an additional $50, you can exchange the i3 processor with an i5 one, and I strongly recommend it.
The most expensive version of the Switch 11 is $799. It comes with an i5 processor, Windows 8.1 Pro, an improved touchpad and a more durable battery (2955 mAh).
Moreover, if you are looking for something cheaper, don’t be disappointed! There is a much cheaper version of Switch 11 is available. It costs just $349 and comes with a Quad Core 1.33 GHz Atom processor, 2 GB of memory, 32 GB of flash storage and an HD (1366×768) screen. However, this version sports a Lithium Polymer battery, instead of Lithium Ion and doesn’t support 64 bit windows.
To be honest, the Switch 11 is not a well designed laptop. It is also heavier than most tablets, and even some laptops when docked. But still, it is an excellent detachable-hybrid tablet. Its versatile magnetic hinge, 1080p IPS touch screen and amazing flexibility are really something unique and ambitious. If you’re looking for a Windows based touch screen hybrid that can dock with a keyboard to give you the full functionality of a laptop or tablet, the Aspire Switch 11 can be the perfect choice!