Acer showcased its 2014 back to school line this week at its global press conference in New York. Standing out amongst the recently revealed devices was the company’s new convertible laptop, the Acer Aspire Switch 10. Living up to its namesake the 10-inch two-in-one hybrid features a flexible form factor — not unlike Lenovo’s popular Yoga line — with the ability to switch between various modes at a moments notice.
While there are plenty of hybrid convertibles currently on the market , the Acer Aspire Switch 10 sets itself apart with its detachable hinge design. Acer refers to the new design as “Snap Hinge”, which employs magnetic connectors that allow the display and dock to attach without the need of a lock latch. The display can detach to act a standalone tablet; or it can be turned around and placed backwards on the keyboard dock to enter stand mode. From there the device can be turned on its head to enter tent mode or the display can be pushed all the way back to enter tablet mode (while attached to keyboard dock).
Notebook Review’s time with the Acer Aspires Switch 10 was limited, but the new magnetic hinge feels like a marked (and much needed) improvement over other detachable devices. The two prongs securely hold the tablet in place, producing a nice audible pop when locking. Despite the latch-free design the hinge appears sturdy enough to hold the device in place. I was able to hold the Switch 10 from its display and even shake it repeatedly while the dock remained securely attached. Removing the display proves just as easy. Placing light pressure on both the dock and display simultaneously allowed the device to easily separate. Reconnecting the display can a prove a bit trickier, but once the prongs are lined up the pull from the magnets will handle the rest.
The only issue with the magnetic hinge is that it adds weight to the rear-end of the keyboard. With the magnetic hinge and the tablet situated at the back-end of the device, all of the device’s weight is located at its back-end and the Switch 10 feels off-balance in its standard clamshell mode as a result. This shouldn’t prove too serious a problem, but it may make using the Switch 10 as a laptop a bit uncomfortable.
Minor weight balancing issues aside, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 appears to be a fairly well built machine. Save for the attractive horizontal brushed textured on the display lid, the design is a bit bland sporting a squared uninspired build. While the device may not feature the most eye-catching design, it’s incredibly portable at only 2.54 pounds (1.29 pounds as a standalone tablet) and the tablet felt solid in my hands.. Even when applying solid pressure to the display it held it’s form.
As a budget device the notebook offers components more in line with a Windows 8 tablet than a traditional laptop. The device features an Intel Atom Z3745 processor, with 2GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics and up to 64GB of eMMC memory. Acer will also offer an option with a built-in HDD in the dock, for those that want more storage. With these components users will be able to handle basic word processing and web functions along with less taxing applications like watching movies, but anything more trying will likely push this device to its limits.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 features a standard HD resolution (1366 x 768) 10.1-inch display. While the resolution is lower than NBR would have liked , the display still offer IPS quality with Acer’s new “Zero Gap” bonding, which supposedly helps to reduce on-screen glare. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to test the Switch 10 fully, but the display held up admirably under the various lights and flashes on the conference floor. The display also afforded solid viewing angles with images holding up well past 100 degrees.
With it’s fluid magnetic hinge design and affordable price point the Acer Aspire Switch 10 is shaping up to be a great option for user with limited computing needs who want the flexibility of both a tablet and laptop.
The Switch 10 will be made available starting in late May for $380.