Though the Microsoft Surface Pro is a beautiful bit of kit, the Acer Switch 5 is a remarkable choice that will not strike on your wallet quite as tough. You get the identical amount of portability and specifications, though there a few compromises you are going to need to put up .
It is a device that's ideal for school students who should take quick notes in class, or for designers that will need to quick sketch or annotate items during encounters. For illustrators it is a fantastic sketchpad for quick thoughts when inspiration strikes, and also for media hoarders it is a comfy size to prop up and appreciate a few Netflix in bed or on the go.
Pricing and availability
Prices for our Acer Switch 5 review unit comes in at $799 or AED 3,999 (about £610, A$1,090). That's not a bad bargain, considering that a same-spec Microsoft Surface Pro retails at $1,299 (about £990, A$1,770, AED 4,900), and that's excluding the keyboard pay and Surface Pen.
Regrettably, the Switch 5 does not come touting the most recent Intel Coffee Lake processor. That said, the accessible Kaby Lake Refresh CPU options are not any slouch and it is helpful to keep the cost down. The Switch 5 is available today in many areas, with an Intel Core i7-7500U 512GB storage model also on offer for the ones that want the extra bit of room.
The Switch 5 is a classy bit of kit, with a minor industrial look and feel for this. The dark gray aluminum casing is thankfully just prone to minor smudges, which are easy to wash off. There's a little bit of a heft into the Switch 5 too, without a observable bend into the screen or lid. Oddly, there is a slight grooved in border that runs round the outside of the device, but it seems to be more to get a visual impact than anything else.
On the other hand you have got the volume rocker in addition to the power button using built-in fingerprint reader. It is typically fairly quick to unlock the Switch 5 using Windows Hello and our registered fingerprint, making it effortless to unlock the device to get a presentation or quick assembly.
The right side sports the power connector, one USB 3.0 Type-A port, and a 1x USB 3.1 Type-C port, which should suffice to your basic connectivity requirements. Right over the 1MP front camera in the very top is the microSD reader, that can be a somewhat odd place for it to be found, as we'd have liked this to be about the faces of the device rather.
In the rear there's a 3MP camera if you require it, in addition to the Switch 5's kickstand. It is designed to adjust automatically based on your viewing angle, so in the event that you push it too far back, then you can simply tilt the Switch 5 forwards just a tiny bit at a better viewing angle -- a simple, one-handed functioning. You're able to push the device all the way down to some 165-degree angle, which ought to suit pretty much most use scenarios.
That which we do not especially like about the kickstand is how hard it's to slough off from the main body. The kickstand sits flush with the Switch 5's torso and there's no simple groove to latch on to enjoy on the Surface Pro, which means you're going to be fumbling and accommodation your fingernail between the unforgiving metal bits before it comes apart (the kickstand, maybe not your fingernail).
It is a critical design defect on Acer's role, and we are hoping that prospective models introduce a lot simpler way to get the kickstand out. Additionally, it creates a loud snapping sound once you shut it, so use caution if you are doing this to prevent startling anyone around you.
That which we did appreciate, however, is the simple fact that the Switch 5 includes a snap-on keyboard that doubles as a screen protector. It is well-spaced and backlit, which makes it great for typing on many stable surfaces. The simple fact that it is included in the price you're paying for the Switch 5 is surely a big plus point.
The keyboard attaches firmly through magnets into the Switch 5's bottom border, and there's a second row of hidden magnets that attaches to the bottom bezel, thus tilting the keyboard in a small angle for better typing. For moments if you don't want the keyboard, you can just detach it fold it all the way back (in which it may disable the keyboard) to use the Switch 5 into tablet mode.
The trackpad may feel a little cramped occasionally, but manages to do its job efficiently. We really find ourselves with the touchscreen more than the trackpad occasionally, but this is going to soon be down to whatever feels the most natural to you.
So just what can you do with the Switch 5? Well, for our everyday office use the Switch 5 plays beautifully, not once hiccupping or running into difficulties. Typing emails up and documents, flipping through tabs in Chrome, and enjoying a place of Netflix through lunchtime was done using a cinch.
Our grade scores were extraordinary, but highlights the Switch 5 as a more than competent machine.
Read more: Acer Predator Helios 300
Lately, Acer Switch 5 features LiquidLoop cooling tech, which forgoes conventional cooling fans in favor of a closed loop liquid-cooling system that uses the physics of evaporation and condensation to dissipate heat. The Switch 5 never gets too hot through our use, and just once watching videos for a lengthy time does it get noticeably hot.
While theoretically you may squeeze a little bit of gaming on the Switch 5, it is not the ideal device to be appreciating a quick game of Overwatch or even Fortnite. While the two games did really run on the lowest settings, they quickly wander to the under-30fps area, which makes them really hard to play properly.
Consider you only have a single USB port, you will certainly should label together a USB hub to connect a proper keyboard and mouse or connect them via Bluetooth at least.
Audio on the Switch 5 is very fair -- the two thin speaker slots around the top bezel are hardly effective in any respect, so audio sounds really tinny. Acer boasts that the Switch 5 includes a smart amplifier and TrueHarmony to improve audio quality, but it does not seem to create much of a difference. Even when you're relaxing in bed and watching something on YouTube, you will want to plug in headphones to guarantee a decent listening experience.
There's also quite a lot of software pre-installed on the Switch 5 -- Norton Security, Acer's Care Center, an range of games, in addition to unnecessary links to Booking.com and eBay. Thankfully all of it may be purged quite quickly in a couple of moments.
Display and screen
The Switch 5's 12" screen sports a QHD (2,160 x 1,440) resolution, marginally less than the Surface Pro's 2,736 x 1,824 offering. But that does not indicate the Switch 15 is any less sharper -- both text and graphics are sharp, and video is usually okay to watch when looking at the device straight-on.
Where the Switch 5 will disappoint is when you try to use it in bright surroundings, or perhaps in moderate sunshine. At max brightness it fails to impress us, so we're relegating the Switch 5 to rigorous indoor use. The display is also quite reflective, therefore when watching media with darker scenes we could constantly see our dumbstruck faces looking back at us.
Throughout our typical battery lifetime picture evaluation, the Switch 5 did a decent 8 hours and 45 minutes until it closed down. During a normal day of use at work alongside a couple meetings, we managed to breeze through without needing to reach for the charger. That's quite striking, as it's easy to dismiss these types of devices as having poor battery life. Additionally, it required the Switch 5 only under 3 hours for a full battery recharge.
Acer quotes about 10.5 hours of battery life, and this may definitely be attainable if you used the Switch 5 together with wireless functions switched off, which can be slightly unrealistic. While we would not use the Switch 5 as a complete replacement for our typical office PC, it makes for a fantastic second device to carry to meetings or to travel with.
The Switch 5 undoubtedly gets top marks in its general structure and build quality, and is more than capable of tackling everyday tasks easily. It's enough battery life to handle the majority of your time off in the charger, and delivers adequate performance at a more affordable cost.
It works brilliantly for designers that wish to quickly replicate things on the go, but also for everyone who wants a portable device for quickly taking notes in meetings. Additionally, it is a wonderful device for catching up on their favourite TV shows through the afternoon commute, rather than attempting to squint down in your phone.
The sore purpose of the Switch 5 must be the finicky hinge mechanism, which is a chore to start compared to the slick kickstand on the Surface Pro. The less than stellar display can also be an issue, along with the audio quality will have you reaching headphones each moment.
Though the Switch 5 does have a few flaws, it would be tough to locate a similar product at a comparable cost. The Switch 5 is certainly no slouch, and ardently makes our badge of admiration in the tablet section.