The Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a Windows 8.1-powered convertible laptop-tablet. However, its clever hinge means that it can – at a stretch – claim to be a 4-in-1 device rather than one with just a dual purpose.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 looks a lot like any other convertible tablet. It's not too far off the popular Asus Transformer Book T100 in design terms.
You get a keyboard part and a tablet or screen part, and the latter has a 10.1-inch display. So far, so ordinary.
It's the style of the hinge that makes the Switch 10 somewhat unusual. Rather than relying solely on a click-in mechanical hinge, it uses plastic braces and magnets.
This makes it easy for Acer to make a two-way mechanism. You can put the Acer Aspire Switch 10's screen on back or front-forward.
Consequently, you can arrange the Switch 10 much like a laptop, or flip the screen around to use the keyboard part as a display mount of sorts.
While nifty, I didn't find the mechanism 100 per cent secure. The magnetism is strong enough, but it's pretty easy to misalign the plastic guides – it's not quite kid-friendly.
Like any 10-inch tablet with a fair bit of bezel, the Aspire Switch 10 isn't the perfect portable tablet either. It feels a bit big to use one-handed. But this is true of every current hybrid of this type.
As is common among Acer tablets in particular, the Switch 10 isn't a beauty. But its tablet part is reasonably thin at 8.9mm thick. The 585g weight is a way above top 10-inch tablets like the Note Pro 10.1 and Xperia Z2 Tablet, but then doing battle with those kinds of high profile gadgets isn't really the Switch 10's aim.
This is seen in resolution too. 1,366 x 768 pixels spread across 10.1 inches is typical of a Windows 8.1 device like this, but it's a bit low among tablets in general.
Still, display quality is decent. Viewing angles are good and colours fairly vibrant. It's an IPS-type display so offers an experience that's pretty similar to other mid-range and high-end tablets.
One thing that is a bit more accomplished than the norm is the speaker array. There are two front-facing speakers rather than the side or rear ones you get with many other tablets.
More casual applications like movie-watching and web browsing are what the Switch 10 will be good at as it doesn't have the sort of core spec that'll worry mid-range and high-end laptops. The Aspire Switch 10 uses an Intel Atom Z3745 processor rather than the Intel Core-series one you really need (among Intel chips, anyway) for really processor-intensive tasks. It also has just 2GB of RAM, although this is the norm for lower-cost Atom-powered devices.
Still, as long as you manage your expectations on this front the Acer Aspire Switch 10 is a versatile little thing. There's a microHDMI port to let you output to a monitor, a microSD memory card slot and a full-size USB port on the keyboard part that makes attaching a mouse a doddle.
There is also the option to get a Switch 10 with a keyboard module that fits in a hard drive, although we don't know how much that'll cost in the UK. And price is very important in a device like this. One of the key reasons why I rated the Transformer Book T100 so highly is that its price makes it far more accessible than most touchscreen laptops, while having a tablet-grade screen.
Acer seems to have the price right, too. Likely to sell for between £300-350 in the UK, it's in the sweet spot that makes it a genuine alternative to an iPad, while offering a bit of that 'real laptop' flavour.
There's nothing radically new about the Acer Aspire Switch 10, but versatility and price will make it attractive to many people out to buy a tablet that's already prepped to let you do serious work on. There are some minor design and build worries, but we'll examine these further in the full review.
Next, check out our best tablets round-up