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Acer Switch 10 review: Right idea, wrong execution

Michelle Mastin | July 30, 2014
Acer tries to do Lenovo's Yoga-series laptops one better with its Switch 10: This 2-in-1 can fold into tent, presentation and tablet modes just like those famous convertibles. But Acer's 10-inch display can be completely detached from its keyboard dock to transform it into a true tablet.

Acer tries to do Lenovo's Yoga-series laptops one better with its Switch 10: This 2-in-1 can fold into tent, presentation and tablet modes just like those famous convertibles. But Acer's 10-inch display can be completely detached from its keyboard dock to transform it into a true tablet.

There's no need to fumble with a release mechanism, either. Friction catches and strong magnets hold the two components together, but the magnets are almost too powerful. They're supposed to help guide a pair of sockets on the tablet to posts on the keyboard, but I found myself constantly needing to reseat the tablet, because the magnets seized the dock before I had an opportunity to line them up properly.

To separate the two, hold the keyboard down and give the display a strong tug. The friction catches inside the tablet sometimes take a few seconds to retract, with a disconcerting sound that had me wondering if something had come loose inside the first few times I heard it. With devices that have 360-degree hinges, presentation mode leaves the keyboard facing down against your work surface, while putting it in tablet mode leaves the keyboard facing out and against your hand.

Reversing the Switch 10's display leaves the keyboard facing up behind it in presentation mode, and flat against the back of the display in tablet mode. Tent mode is also available for those times when your work surface is limited — such as an airline tray table.

This clever design is somewhat undermined by a less-than-awesome display. I suppose a 10.1-inch, 1366x768 display is to be expected at the lower end of the tablet price range, but Acer's panel doesn't get particularly bright. It's the only tablet I've used where I felt the need to keep the brightness cranked at all times. The tablet looks bulkier than its 0.35-inch thickness and 1.29-pound weight due to its wide, black bezel, with an outer silver frame. Front-firing speakers at the bottom (in notebook or presentation mode) or top (in tent mode) get impressively loud.

The keyboard's keys are small, flat, and surprisingly stiff. My first keystroke failed to register until I became accustomed to its tactile response and learned how hard I needed to strike the keys. The dock is also on the light side for how heavy the tablet is. It tends to slide around the desk when you tap its display in notebook mode.

The only ports on the tablet are micro and mini versions of USB and HDMI, respectively. The tablet also supports Miracast wireless video streaming if you don't want to mess with an HDMI adapter to connect the tablet to a stand-alone display. Bluetooth and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi round out its wireless connectivity. The included keyboard dock has a full-size USB 2.0 port, but no USB 3.0.

 

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