Hands on with Acer's Aspire Switch 10

Acer's hybrid is primarily a tablet, but a magnetic keyboard base lets users give it different shapes

Acer Aspire Switch 10

Acer Aspire Switch 10

Acer's dual-purpose Aspire Switch 10 can function as a Windows 8 tablet and laptop, but the shape-shifting product's uniqueness is in its magnetic keyboard base, an element not found on other hybrid devices.

The Aspire Switch 10 is first a tablet, but it can be attached in multiple ways to a keyboard base, so it can be used as a laptop or as a screen to conduct video chats or watch movies. The keyboard base has a rotating roller with snap-on hinges and magnets that allow the tablet to be placed in multiple positions.

During a brief hands-on test at an event in New York, the tablet securely snapped on to the hard keyboard dock base. The tablet can also be docked to the base in the opposite direction, which Acer calls "display mode." It also can adopt a reverse V shape, which the company calls "tent mode."

The Switch 10 incorporates ideas from other hybrids already available, but the differentiating factor is the magnetic keyboard base. Lenovo's heavier Flex and Yoga hybrids can be placed in similar positions as the Switch 10, but the screens are hardwired to the keyboard base. Detachable hybrids like Hewlett-Packard's Split X2 and Acer's Transformer Book T100 have tablet screens that dock to the base only in laptop mode.

Microsoft's 10.6-inch Surface Pro 2 has an optional soft keyboard that attaches to the tablet through magnets, but a kickstand is needed to secure the tablet.

As a tablet, the Switch 10 had a sharp screen and felt responsive. It runs on a dual-core Intel Atom Z3745 processor -- code-named Bay Trail -- with a clock speed of 1.33GHz. The tablet has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which is close to 720p, and not full HD.

At 585 grams, the Switch 10 isn't as light as the iPad, but it feels light enough to carry around. Acer missed on some features -- it has only one front-facing, 2-megapixel webcam. Many tablets in the class of Switch 10 have two cameras, one on the front and one on the back.

The Switch 10 will ship with a basic keyboard dock, and with it the product weighs roughly 1.2 kilograms. Acer plans to sell an option dock with a hard drive, which will appeal to laptop users. Internal storage on the Switch 10 is only 32GB or 64GB.

The product starts at US$379 and will ship in June in the U.S. and Canada. The company didn't comment on worldwide availability. Other similar-sized tablets include the $375 HP Omni 10, which has a faster Bay Trail processor and more cameras, but no keyboard base.

The Switch 10 is an example of how hybrid device makers are trying out a variety of designs. But in a stagnant PC market desperate for innovation, companies are hoping one of these designs will become a hit.

"At the end of the day what they are trying to do is combine the capabilities of a PC and tablet in a device," said Bob O'Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis Research.

PC makers are trying to get the weight, size and price point of hybrid devices right, O'Donnell said. There has been some adoption of hybrids among business users, who want a tablet yet need a PC to run business applications.

The success of hybrids also depends on the willingness of users to run Windows 8 in tablet form, and early signs of adoption are encouraging, he said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows laptopshardware systemslaptopsacer

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?