Convertible notebooks have been growing rapidly in popularity since Microsoft first tried to push the concept with the release of Windows 8 and their own Surface Pro line of products, but it’s only in the last year or so that they’ve truly come into their own as viable options for people who want both a tablet and a laptop but don’t want to have to carry both around with them.
Acer has been one of the companies reliably leading this charge and now thanks to the Core M, they’re able to take that combination of power and portability – of form and function – even further. The Aspire Switch 12 is one of the devices they’re pushing the idea forward with and on the face of it, it appears to be well put-together and flexible option at a reasonable price.
But how does it measure up under scrutiny?
Deals from Acer
Aspire Switch 12 (SW5-271-640N) Convertible
Razor-thin laptop meets ultra-fast tablet
This notebook Aspire Switch SW5-271-640N comes with Windows 8.1 operating system and Intel® Core™ M ...
Windows 8.1 (eligible for free Windows 10 upgrade)
1920 x 1080 / Intel® HD Graphics 5300
Design and Features
As a convertible notebook, the Acer Aspire Switch can pull off the key trick we’ve become accustomed to seeing in these kinds of devices: it allows you to remove the screen. At first glance, it looks very much like a standard laptop/notebook but if you grab the screen, you can pull it off with relative ease to hold just the ‘tablet portion’ for what OEMs like to call ‘upright computing’.
The precise way this works is somewhat different from the Surface however, as the keyboard is a little shorter at the front and protrudes out the back. That backward protrusion then remains when the keyboard is detached, leaving a flap that can either be folded back flush, or used as a multi-angle stand. This is a great solution too, as it means you can adjust the screen however you like whether you’re watching Netflix with it at the end of your bed, or you’re lying on the floor reading eBooks. You can even re-attach the screen on backward and have the keys facing the back of the screen.
And with the keyboard attached, the device is capable of some impressive gymnastics still – even lying completely flat against a table, Lenovo-style. Oh and it can also be used wirelessly. Meanwhile, the kickstand at the back addresses the ‘top heavy’ issue that some convertibles face and greatly improves the overall ‘lapability’.
Of course you also get a touch-screen which is also a beautiful, 12’’ full HD IPS experience that looks great from every angle.
Build Quality and Keyboard
The design is good for those who want some flexibility in the way they use their devices then but without a decent build quality, it’s not going to win over that ‘power user’ crowd that it’s probably trying to win over from Apple’s Macbook Airs.
Fortunately, the device delivers in that regard too. As mentioned, that screen is to die for and when you combine that with anti-fingerprint treatment, you have something that will remain looking great even with repeated use. This level of attention to detail is clear in other areas too with a generally impressive finish throughout the product.
A series of ports including USB 3.0 and micro USB help to round out the experience and all the buttons and keys are thoughtfully placed.
What will also stand out when you first get your hands on one of these, is just how light they are which further adds to the somewhat premium feel.
Hardware and Performance
Part of the reason that the Switch 12 is so light is because it’s rocking one of Intel’s new Intel Core M chips. These boast impressive thermal management which essentially means you won’t need a fan or liquid cooling anymore.
At the same time though, the processor manages to be much more powerful than what you would have found in a netbook a couple of years ago. Core M is also being used in the new MacBook, so the performance should be roughly on par here. The Switch 12 combines that chip with 4GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300. The harddrive is SSD which further speeds things up, though you’re limited to just 60GB of storage (which can be expanded with an SD card or cloud storage).
What this all means in the real world, is that you should find you get buttery smooth performance from this hybrid for the majority of ‘day-to-day tasks’. Browsing media-heavy websites won’t give the device pause for thought and you should have no difficulty editing multiple documents in Microsoft Office or streaming video from YouTube.
That said, this is a notebook and not an Ultrabook. If you want top end performance then you’re still going to need an i5 or i7 processor (preferably Skylake) and external graphics. What this means is that the Switch 12 isn’t for gaming or for video editing. In fact, even a gen 1 Surface Pro will perform better in those kinds of tasks.
The Switch 12 then is built for general functionality and productivity and in those capacities it will function very well indeed.
Interestingly, the Switch 12 still comes with Windows 8.1 preloaded. Fortunately, it’s also viable for a free upgrade to Windows 10. It’s a bit of a hassle having to update then but you can get yourself up-to-date fairly quickly once you have it out of the box.
And it’s very much worth upgrading to Windows 10 if you do opt for this notebook, as it’s the perfect companion. Whereas Windows 8/8.1 would awkwardly force you into either a desktop or tablet environment with separate apps, Windows 10 streamlines this process via something that Microsoft dubs ‘Continuum’. What this essentially means, is that you stay in the same place all the time, but the layout of the apps and interface automatically reconfigure when you attach or detach the keyboard.
Windows 10 still has a couple of bugs to iron out and the app store still isn’t fully flushed out. But that aside, this is a great operating system for all kinds of use scenarios. Most importantly, it gives you access to all of the legacy Windows software which means you can run full Microsoft Office and install a host of other software that might be necessary for your business.
Deals from Amazon
Aspire Switch 12 (SW5-271-640N) Convertible
Acer Aspire Switch 12 SW5-271-64V2 12.5-Inch Full HD Detachable 5 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop& Free shippingLast update was in: January 22, 2020 5:59 pm
- Intel Core M-5Y10c Processor (0.8 GHz)
- 4 GB DDR3 RAM
- 128 GB Solid-State Drive
- 12.5-Inch Screen, Intel HD Graphics 5300
- Windows 8.1, 6-hour battery life
Who’s It For?
The Acer Switch 12 is a fantastic buy, offering extreme flexibility and excellent build-quality at a very reasonable price. Whether or not it’s right for you though will depend on your specific requirements. As mentioned, this is categorically not a device for hardcore gamers and it won’t handle video editing or other graphics-heavy tasks either.
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But for business types who need to be able to work on the go, or families who want something they can use for filling out expenses or entertaining the kids, it’s probably one of the best options available right now.