It's a laptop! It's a tablet! It's...the Acer Aspire Switch 10 E. Yes, the most portable of the laptops we looked at in the $500 tier is also the weirdest, being that it's one of those "tablet hooked to a keyboard" hybrid deals. Or sometimes it's a "tablet not hooked to a keyboard," depending on what you're doing with it.
Is it powerful? No. Is it going to be practical for everyone? Absolutely not. But it's actually one of my favorite machines in this round-up, even if it will only attract a very specific niche.
The first thing that will surprise you about the Acer Aspire Switch 10 E is that it's heavy.
Now, weight-wise the Switch 10 E isn't very different from the competition. It's 2.5 pounds, which is almost identical to the Lenovo S21e's netbook-esque dimensions. And that makes sense, when you look at the Switch 10 E in its standard clamshell configuration--it looks like a netbook, complete with the requisite grey-ish/lavender "brushed metal" plastic casing.
But pick up the S21e and the Switch 10 E at the same time and you'll immediately notice the difference--2.5 pounds concentrated in the base of the laptop is extremely different from 2.5 pounds split across the base and the lid.
Due to the fact the Switch 10 E's screen is also a tablet, the internals are mostly concentrated in what looks like the "lid" of the laptop. It's a top-heavy machine, and one that's prone to falling over backwards like a baby who hasn't quite learned to walk yet.
It's the compromise you make to have a laptop/tablet hybrid like the Switch 10 E. And aside from the weight, the Switch 10 E is remarkably well-designed. Unlike many other hybrids, which typically use hinges that click together mechanically, the Switch 10 E's hinges are magnetic. This gives it a solid grip I've never seen in any other hybrid--so solid I turned it upside down and waved it around, but the Switch 10 E stayed in one piece. That's impressive.
The machine's easy to pull apart by hand though, and you can use it as a standard laptop, a tablet, or that weird thing where you turn the screen upside down and mount it back on the keyboard like a picture frame.
The screen itself is a quality 10.1-inch IPS display, though limited to 1280x800 resolution. That's not too big a detriment for a ten-inch laptop though, and the vividness of colors (even off-axis) makes the Switch 10 E's glossy display easily one of the best in this set of reviews.
I can't say the same of the speakers. Small laptop means small speakers, and the Switch 10 E's sound quality is predictably poor--mostly treble, and not very loud either. Expect to use headphones with the Switch 10 E.
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