- Review Price: £1100.00
- Dual-core Intel Core i5 or i7
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Tablet weight: 920g
- Keyboard dock and stylus
- 12-inch 2160x1440-pixel display
Acer Switch 5 preview: Hands on with a clever 2-in-1.
The 12-inch Switch 5 completes Acer’s range of Surface Pro-like 2-in-1 devices, sitting a notch above the Celeron-powered Switch 3. Upon first impressions, it’s one of Acer’s most accomplished 2-in-1s to date and feels like the company has learned from its previous launches. But with a big jacking up of the price, there can’t be any mistakes.
Like other 2-in-1s, the Switch is formed from two units: the keyboard and the touchscreen tablet. The tablet alone weighs 920g, but Acer didn’t have a figure for how much the keyboard weighs. The previous-gen Switch Alpha 12 had a total weight of over 1.2kg, which was more than light enough. Picking up the Switch 5, it feels very baggable indeed. The premium metal chassis feels robust, and I wouldn’t be worried about shoving this into a bag on a daily basis.
The tablet connects firmly to the keyboard dock using magnets, as you’d expect, and there’s no risk of it coming loose under normal carrying circumstances. The tablet has a unique sprung kickstand at the rear, which not only tips backwards when you push on the tablet with enough force, but also pushes back when you lift the tablet. This means it’s as adaptable as a laptop screen and eliminates one of the more irritating aspects of owning a 2-in-1.
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The only potential snag I can see is if you work on a surface that scratches easily. The nature of the stand is that it has to push pretty hard into the surface it’s sitting on in order to go back and forward. Better check whether your desk is up to the task.
The keyboard is similarly good. It’s backlit and feels very strong, with no flex under normal typing use. The keys are even backlit, which isn’t always a given on 2-in-1 keyboards. The touchpad is a real highlight, with perfectly weighted swipes, clicks and gestures. Missing a fingerprint reader? Don’t worry, there’s one on the left edge of the tablet within easy reach.
The Switch 5 also comes with an active stylus, which works with Microsoft’s Windows Ink platform and will please any casual doodler and note taker.
The touch screen is sharp as you like, with a 2160×1440-pixel resolution IPS panel. It’s bright and colourful and and will satisfy most users. Acer doesn’t have a colour gamut coverage figure at the moment, but last year’s Switch Alpha 12 was able to cover about 81% of the sRGB gamut, which is fine for most regular users, although professional photographers who crave colour accuracy may wish to look elsewhere.
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Performance is really impressive considering the specifications. The model I tested came equipped with a dual-core Intel Core i5-7200U from the latest Kaby Lake generation alongside 8GB of memory. Loading up a few pre-installed Windows programs and popping open a cheeky TrustedReviews tab – a site not known for loading quickly on dual-core devices – I was quickly browsing around the site with no issues or stutters whatsoever. There’s a fast PCI Express (PCIe) SSD as well, which will be considerably faster than the SATA models in mid-range laptops and eMMC storage in cheap models such as the Switch 3.
The device is almost completely silent thanks to Acer’s liquid cooling technology, which uses vapour chambers to move vaporised liquid away from hot components to other parts of the tablet. It worked well last year and was an impressive selling point when you consider other fanless laptops use much lower-power processors.
Battery life at maximum brightness was reported by Windows 10 as being around five hours. That’s not brilliant in the general scheme of things, but for what is essentially an ultra-small laptop with a quality screen, it’s okay.
This is probably Acer’s best 2-in-1 to date, but with a starting price of nearly €1099 (around £1100), it’s right up against the Surface Pro 4, so there will be some fairly strong comparisons to make when Trusted does its full review. The Switch 5 launches in June.