Acer Aspire Switch 12 Laptop / Tablet Review
Today we’re checking an odd computer from Acer. This is called Acer Aspire Switch 12 laptop, and I thought it’s going to be like their switch 10, which I like, a low-cost computer.
They had some neat stuff with the screen where you can pull it off and flip it around.
This one, unfortunately, is not as cool as that one. It’s a hybrid tablet-laptop, and it doesn’t really accomplish either of those functions very well. It is rather big and bulky, so you can see they tried to make it almost kind of like a surface.
A Microsoft Surface designed to some extent, it’s got the same kind of kickstand kind of approach to things, but it really isn’t all that useful as a tablet just because it’s so big.
- Strong build
- Classy looks
- Decent speakers
- Decent battery life
- Heavy as a tablet
Acer Aspire Switch 12 Laptop / Tablet: General Overview
It is only 2.4 pounds, but it feels a lot heavier, giving its bulk, and I think that is a strike against it. It does have a nice display tho. It’s got a 1920×1080 display really good viewing angles on it.
It is a touchscreen too. It’s very responsive as you’d expect that one of these touchscreens to be.
My only complaint with it, though, is that it is a bit dim, so it doesn’t really get as bright as I would like it to.
Now this computer, because it is a computer, is running with a Core M processor, it’s one of the new fan list chips.
This is an 800 megahertz part about the same as you would see in other core M chipset based computers you’ll find at this price point.
This is about $700. It has four gigs of RAM, though, which is less than some of the other computers that cost the same, so a great comparative is the ASUS UX305 that has the same chip, but it has 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD for $699.
This one has the same chip but half the RAM, four gigs, and only 128 GB of onboard storage for that same $699 price tag. So I do think it is a little bit overpriced for what it is.
Now you’ll see here that we’ve got it in kind of its hybrid mode here. We have it propped up on the desk here, and there’s no keyboard, but the keyboard actually lives in the back of the computer.
Now you can’t, unfortunately, flip the screen around. That would be ideal because you would get a pretty easy way to flip back and forth.
What you have to do, though, is detach the keyboard and then flip it around, and then you can use the keyboard wirelessly, so it is a wireless keyboard, or you can dock it with the computer here.
Magnets will kind of line up, and it will almost dock itself. It just snaps into place on its own.
The keyboard is rigid enough that you can use it as a laptop, so it doesn’t get all floppy on you. You can use it on your lap without any issues. It really is a sort of comfortable typing experience, I guess, on the lap.
My main gripes with saying it’s sort of comfortable are that the screen kind of lives in the middle of the device, so it’s a little bit weird to have that screen so close to the keyboard.
Really hasn’t been many laptops designed like this, where the keyboard and the monitor are very close together like this.
You can, of course, detach the keyboard and use it wirelessly if you want to get a little bit more distance and get a little bit more of a resting spot for your wrist. But that’s not going to be very practical on an airplane or something where your seating is very limited.
Now the other issue with the keyboard is that this is a wireless keyboard.
Even when it is docked, it is in Wireless mode and consumes an onboard battery, so there’s a battery on the keyboard in addition to the computer. It doesn’t charge when you have it docked, which I thought was a very disturbing decision here.
I think they should at least give you the keyboard some power when it’s plugged in because otherwise, you’re going to be draining the keyboard battery even when you’re using it like most of us would be docked to the front of the computer.
The only way to charge the keyboard is when it’s uselessly docked to the back of the computer. You can certainly type on the keyboard while it’s behind the screen, but you can’t see the screen while it’s charging, which is unfortunate.
It will charge the keyboard tho when the computer is off, and it will charge off of the laptop’s battery, although that’s not a huge power drain.
These keyboards are very low power consumption, but you have to remember to keep plugging the keyboard on the other side of the computer in order to get it charged.
And I thought that was a very weird decision on their part. The keys themselves were tiny and spaced too hard apart, so I really had a hard time typing very comfortably on it.
There is also a lack of a trackpad. What they have done is put one of these little pointer nubs here very similar to what you see on the think pads and many other computers from the 90’s and early 2000s have had these, so not too bad but not maybe as useful as a trackpad might be, especially for scrolling and that sort of thing.
Of course, you have a touchscreen built into this device, so you can do things like, you know, just tap on the screen, and scroll with your finger or smear like that.
I noticed that the screen is really bouncing quite a bit on here while you’re using it, which isn’t too great.
Even when you are typing on there, and your desk is moving slightly, the screen will translate all of that motion while you’re going here. As if a train or a bus or something or a plane, you might get a little motion sickness trying to use it that way.
There are some ports of note here. You’ve got a video out with an HDMI micro adapter there.
You have a USB 3 micro adapter here, and this is for connecting USB 3 devices, so it doesn’t have a regular list., a regular USB 3 connector, so you’re going to have to get some kind of adapter to get your hard drives and other USB 3 devices to plug into this thing because this doesn’t have a standard USB connector that you’ll see on most PCs.
So that’s a problem for me. There is a power adapter here so you can plug in there.
Now there is a regular USB port on here, but this is only a USB 2.0 port on this side, so it’s a little bit slower than that other port on the other side of the computer.
On this side, you have a volume rocker up and down. The windows button is there, and you also have a headphone/microphone jack.
At the top, you have a power standby button and a micro SD card slot for putting on some external storage, which might be helpful because you only have 128 GB of storage on the main device.
Some of that used up by the part, you know the recovery partition and other things you have probably around 100 GB give or take of actual usable space on the drive, so having that memory card slot might be good for storing media and that sort of thing.
It is a micro SD card slot, and it will sit flush to the monitor so that it will work well as augmented storage.
Now all the hardware decisions aside, it actually does perform quite well. The Core M processor has been something I’ve been really impressed with lately because it does really perform nicely and doesn’t consume a lot of power.
It allows us to make these fanless devices at least allows the manufacturers to make these family’s devices, so this one is fanless. Performs pretty well. We’re going to take a look at that now.
So take a look at its web browsing prowess. First, we’ve got Google Chrome loaded up here. All this pops open to a story here, and you can see it renders the page relatively quickly, and we can scroll through everything. We can even get the ads popping up very quickly as well.
The mouse’s a little bit of a hassle to deal with cause I’m just not used to using these little nub mice, so it is a little difficult to get the mouse in the right spot, but as you can see, the page renders pretty quickly, you can scroll very nicely, and it works quite well.
As you can see here, the switch twelve scores 18700, which puts it about around the same speed as UX305 from ASUS running with the same processor and as a point of comparison.
You can see how it compares to my old MackBook Air from 2012, which comes in at 16680 so as a web browsing device it does very well and I think you’ll have a very good experience with it.
I will go over to YouTube real quick to see some videos on there. I should note that the speakers are in the front here, they don’t sound very good, they are a bit tinny, they can be loud enough to project what you want to project, but it doesn’t really sound all that great.
But you can certainly playback videos relatively quickly, and if you have a decent internet connection, you should have a good go with that.
I think it has wireless AC onboard, and it definitely supports the five gigahertz Wi-Fi yet has AC and supports five gigahertz channels, so you’re going to get some of the newer Wi-Fi access points working with this without issues.
Next, we’re going to do real quick is pop open Microsoft Word.
I got this newsletter template that I like to run when I’m testing a computer app because it does have a lot of things like images and other things on here that tend to tax the processor a little bit more than other things in Word might.
But it tends to render everything very quickly. I can move the images around if I wish, probably going to screw up the document.
Still, you can see through it can make adjustments on the fly very quickly, so if you’re doing things like Word processing and Spreadsheets, you’re not going to have any slow down with this app at all.
Minecraft and other games
This is not a gaming device by any stretch of the imagination, but it can run games. One great game to test on this is Minecraft.
I am surprised by how well Minecraft is performing here because I’m getting better frame rates by and large than I am out of the ASUS UX305 running with the same processor, so I don’t know if it’s maybe just the map that I’m on or something.
Still, I am getting anywhere from 80 to 75 frames per second and reading about 84 right now, which is good for a Core M processor, so this is a pretty impressive display here, at least for this particular game.
One last thing to talk about is battery life. You’ll probably get 5-6 hours to give or take when you’re doing basic work tasks like productivity, word processing, web browsing, email, that sort of thing.
That was with the screen brightness up, so you might be able to squeeze a little bit more if you turn the brightness down, but not bad battery life either, compared to other computers at this price point.
So I have to say it’s a shame because it performs well, but the hardware design is so bizarre that it doesn’t do either of the two things it tries to be: a tablet and a laptop.
What I would do is look at other core M machines at this price point.
Cause they are going to perform about the same, but you’ll get a better design, mostly as a laptop, and if you really want a tablet, some great 8-inch Windows tablets are running the full version of Windows 8.1 that cost about $100.
You can get a laptop for $700, a tablet for $100, and you’ll have the best of both worlds deices to be what they are for under $1000.