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Acer Aspire Switch 10 E review: A solid choice for those who need maximum portability

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 18, 2015
It's a laptop. It's a tablet. It's the Acer Aspire Switch 10 E, and it's here to try and prove hybrids don't have to be terrible.

The keyboard also suffers a bit for having to fit on a ten-inch machine. It's small, and although the keys have a semi-satisfying click you've barely pressed one before it bottoms out. It's a keyboard you would only type on in emergencies--definitely not something I'd want to use day-in-day-out as my standard work machine unless I had a spare keyboard to attach.

The trackpad is the same--high quality, but extraordinarily tiny. Luckily you also have an extremely-responsive touchscreen accessible at all times, so when you get fed up using the ant-sized trackpad you can just stick your grubby finger on the screen instead.

And as for ports, they're on the lid too. Well, everything except for a lone USB 2.0 slot built into the base. On the left of the lid you have micro-USB (for power), micro-HDMI out, an audio jack, and a microSD reader. The right side of the lid has the power button, a volume rocker, and the Windows key.

The specs

When it comes to performance, someone in this set of reviews had to be crowned "the worst," and unfortunately that award goes to the Switch 10. And no surprise there, because this thing is more of a tablet-hooked-to-a-keyboard than a laptop-sans-keyboard. Inside the lid, the Switch 10 packs a tiny little Intel Atom Z3735F clocked at 1.33GHz (a.k.a. a tablet processor) with integrated Intel HD Graphics and 2GB of RAM.

So while the Switch 10 runs a full version of Windows 8.1, expect performance on par with a tablet and not a laptop. In PCMark 8, the Switch 10 hit a mere 1,070 in the Home Conventional test--which measures standard use cases like web browsing, video chat, et cetera.

What does that score mean for you? It means even everyday tasks will feel a bit sluggish on the Switch 10--an impression I can confirm after some hands-on time. Loading up a web page or typing in Notepad felt slower on the Switch 10 than any other machine I used for this round-up. Compare the Switch 10's 1,070 score to a full-fledged laptop like the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 for instance (2,210) and you can easily see the performance gap.

On the other hand, the Switch 10 picks up some points by packing speedy eMMC storage inside. It's one of only three laptops to feature something other than a standard hard drive in this round-up, alongside the HP Pavilion and Lenovo S21e. And while the included 64GB is small, you've at least got a 500GB hard drive as backup storage in the Switch 10 (in the model we reviewed, at least).

That hard drive is interesting--it's the only part (as far as I can tell) that's stored in the base of the Switch 10. When you disconnect the lid from the keyboard, the hard drive also disconnects. I do wonder how the integrity of the hard drive would hold up over time if you accidentally remove the tablet portion while transferring files, but didn't manage to cause any major errors during my time with the Switch 10.

 

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