According to Acer, one of its most popular tablets/computers was the Switch 10 from last year and this year, the company aimed to improve it by offering an updated version that’s guaranteed an update to Windows 10 when it launches next month.
Over the weekend, we were in Dublin with Acer and we took a closer look at the Switch 10E, which is cheaper than last year’s Switch 10 at a cost of between $280 and $330 and comes with an upgraded design, improved performance and excellent 12-hour battery life.
There are two key changes in the Switch 10E over last year’s version; a new texture feel and the new Acer Snap Hinge 2 technology that lets you use the tablet in different modes.
The texture design is available in five colours and we had a close look at the red one, while also seeing the purple and pink ones in the flesh. Interestingly, the red one is closer to a peach colour but the other colours are mostly recognisable and somewhat accurate. The key thing however is that, whilst the switch to a texture colourful design does make it more comfortable to hold, it doesn’t look at premium as the faux-metal version from last year.
The other key design change is the new Acer Snap Hinge 2 and this is one change that is very welcome. The design of last year’s Switch 10 was impressive but the Snap Hinge made changing position difficult and Snap Hinge 2 changes this, making it simple to switch between the different tablet modes.
Like the Switch 10, the Switch 10E comes with the tablet and the keyboard accessory in the box and in essence, it’s a cheaper version of the Surface Pro 3 with a few design tweaks. The keyboard is mostly comfortable to use but the trackpad is inferior and makes it somewhat difficult to navigate Windows 8. Not a deal-breaker by any stretch as the touchscreen response is pretty accurate and easy to use but worth keeping in mind.
Unlike the Surface Pro 3, the keyboard is quite rugged and means you can use it as more than just a lightweight keyboard. The keyboard and tablet combine to offer four different modes you can use the Switch 10E in and each has its uses:
Tablet mode: As you might have guessed, this is using the tablet on its own and it works just like any other Windows tablet might. The touchscreen response is good enough to make using tablet mode a joy.
Notebook mode: The other of the ‘normal’ modes, this is using the keyboard and tablet together to form a notebook. Like most notebooks, the Switch 10E is expected to have excellent battery life and has a full-sized easy to use keyboard with trackpad and recessed keys.
Tent mode: This is probably the one mode you’ll think is useless until you actually have a need for it. Designed predominantly for spaces where you have a real lack of space – such as a cramped train or on an aeroplane where the tray tables are small – the Tent mode lets you prop up the tablet for you to watch something on without taking up a lot of space. Rather than use the Display mode, which has a large part of the Switch 10E on the surface, tent mode props the tablet up by resting on the two edges of the display/keyboard meaning it’s secure without taking up much room. Perfect for those trips away.
Display mode: As far as design goes, this can only be described as an inverse version of the netbook mode. It works the same way with the keyboard resting on the surface but rather than have it in front of the display, you dock the tablet in reverse meaning the keyboard rests behind the tablet and still keeps the display propped up. If you’re watching a film, this is pretty much guaranteed to be the best way to watch it on the Switch 10E.
The other key difference between the two versions is the weight of the tablet; last year’s edition came in at a hefty 1.7kg but Acer have managed to reduce this significantly, with the Switch 10E weighing in at just 1.28kg. It’s not the lightest tablet or 2-in-1 in the market but the reduced weight definitely makes it more pleasing to use, especially on the go.
From the design to the display and another area that’s had a very slight bump over last year’s edition. The Switch 10 came with a 10 inch 1366×768 display but this year’s version offers a slightly different aspect ratio with 1280×800 pixels resolution.
Given that this is a $280 2-in-1 tablet, it’s worth keeping your expectations in check as the display doesn’t have the greatest viewing angles, especially in bright lights. That being said, it a $280 tablet and the display is more than fair considering the target market and overall package on offer.
Despite the viewing angles shortcoming, the Switch 10E comes equipped with Acer’s LumiFlex technology, which means it should last better than other tablets in direct sunlight. The display itself comes across as quite sharp, the colour reproduction is satisfactory and the touch screen offers impressive response. If you’re looking for a cheap Windows tablets, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Rather than let you wait for Microsoft to prompt you about the Windows 10 upgrade, Acer has made it a key selling point, telling its customers to get ready for Windows 10. The company guarantees you’ll be able to upgrade to Microsoft’s new platform – which launches on July 29th – and presumably (although this isn’t confirmed) it will help you with the upgrade process.
Windows 8.1 itself is certainly fully functional and usable but Windows 10 will transform tablets, with several features that will change the way you use your Windows tablet. Here’s a quick rundown of the features and you can read more in our Windows 10 for tablets feature:
Apps in Windows: the ability to open apps in individual windows on the desktop.
Action Centre: a new centralised settings shortcut and notifications centre
Start Menu: the start screen is gone and replaced by a new Windows 7-like Start Menu, complete with live tiles.
Tablet Mode:Windows 10 will introduce a tablet mode that replaces the default interface with a touch-friendly interface, designed specifically for touchscreen tablets.
Multiple Desktops: the ability to have multiple desktops on one display, allowing you to split your work-life balance.
Microsoft Edge: Microsoft’s latest browser brings Chrome-like performance and is the complete opposite to Internet Explorer, which has finally been retired.
Cortana:Microsoft’s personal assistant will transform how you use and interact with your tablet by bringing contextual information and voice recognition to your slate.
The Switch 10E is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor which provides a smooth lag-free performance and reported 12-hour battery life. In person, the processor seems to handle most everyday tasks with ease but is unlikely to stand up to resource intensive tasks while we’ve been unable to test the battery life but will do once we spend more time with the tablet.
There’s a range of variants to choose from but the key noticeable difference – apart from the model number – appears to be the amount of internal memory. All models use the Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor clocked at 1.33GHz and come with 2GB RAM and if you go for the 32GB storage option, it’ll cost you $279.99, which rises to $329.99 if you need the larger 64GB internal storage.
Aspire Switch 10E: Conclusion
Overall the Acer Aspire Switch 10E is designed for a specific market and it definitely goes above and beyond what you might expect at this price. The tablet has a great 2-in-1 design that has multiple uses and the Intel Atom processor will handle most every day tasks you ask of it.
It’s certainly not designed for a heavy use case scenario but if you’re in the market for a cheap Windows tablet, the Switch 10E will definitely do the job. The fact it comes with a keyboard, multiple display modes and a years’ Office 365 subscription just sweetens the deal!
The Switch 10E is available to buy from the Acer website. What do you think of the Acer Aspire Switch 10E? Would you buy one? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!