The Good: The Acer Switch 11 V has a beautiful HD display, pleasant typing experience and feels very well constructed. It also performs really well when multi-tasking and during gaming too.
The Bad: The display heats up noticeably on the left side, which can become a nuisance during gaming. Battery life is mediocre, and Acer’s trackpad could also do with significant improvements.
The Bottom Line: As a convertible, multi-purpose machine, the Acer Switch 11 V feels great to use. It’s fast, versatile, well made and will serve students and basic users well.
It’s been a while since I really used a Windows machine, but ever since Microsoft announced Windows 10 the inner geek in me has felt compelled to give it another shot.
From Cortana’s usefulness as a virtual assistant to the improved multi-tasking capabilities, I’m genuinely excited to be using a Windows machine again. I think what I’m most interested in though – and a big reason why I’ve asked Acer to send out their Switch 11 V laptop – is to get a better idea of whether a 2-in-1 really delivers on its promise.
Can this kind of device actually hit the sweet spot between work and play?
A versatile machine
With 4GB of RAM and an Intel Core M processor, the Acer Switch 11 V isn’t built to handle 4K video or serious gaming. But that’s OK; I don’t expect it to.
It’s a machine made for lighter uses like casual web browsing, catching up on email, light productivity work and hours of procrastination on YouTube and gaming. For those kinds of tasks, the Acer Switch 11 V has been a pleasure to use.
Thanks to 60GB-128GB of SSD (Solid State Drive) storage, depending on the configuration you choose, the Switch 11 V starts up and opens apps quickly. In fact, the Windows Mail app opened in under 2 seconds when I just tested it. And with another 500GB-1TB of extra hard drive storage sitting within the keyboard too – accessible when you’ve got the display docked in – you won’t need to worry about running out of data storage space anytime soon either. Plenty of space for your photos, movies and any other data you want to keep safe.
So far, so good.
The Acer Switch 11 V has a pretty solid build. Everything from the keyboard base to the display itself feel sturdy, durable and well built.
I’ve used some pretty finicky and cheap-feeling keyboards on other Windows laptops, but this one on the Acer Switch 11 V actually feels really comfortable to type on. The keys are nicely spaced out, well placed, and there’s a good amount of travel when you press them too. (A backlit keyboard would have been nice here, but it’s not a dealbreaker.)
The Switch 11 V’s HD touch-screen display is also impressive. Colours are vibrant, viewing angles are good, and with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 you’re sure to get that full HD experience for your YouTube or Netflix sessions. Even the touchscreen has performed really well on both desktop and tablet modes; it feels responsive and accurate in both cases.
Front facing speakers are another major win for me, especially paired with the HD display. You’re unlikely to notice the impact of front-facing speakers when you’ve got the Switch 11 V in laptop mode because the keyboard will cover them slightly, but in tablet mode it’s refreshing to be able to play a game with “Dolby Home Theatre” sound coming right at you!
From a hardware perspective, Acer have done a great job here.
All the ports you’ll need to get stuff done
With so much fuss about having the right amount of ports on your laptop nowadays – yes Apple MacBook with one USB type-C port, I’m looking at you – the Acer Switch 11 V comes with everything you’ll need to get work done. One USB 3.0 port on the keyboard base itself, MicroSD card slot, headphone jack, micro HDMI and micro USB ports.
Hopefully you’re not the kind of person who’ll be holding up the Acer Switch 11 V tablet to take photos, but it’s nice to know that Acer have spec’d this machine out with some decent hardware.
The rear-facing 1080p camera took some pretty decent shots, however you’ll almost certainly be better served by your smartphone. As for the front-facing 720p camera, it’s not perfect by any means but for a quick video call with the family it’ll get the job done.
A few caveats
By and large I’ve been impressed with the Acer Aspire Switch 11 V, but it isn’t without its flaws.
I’ve noticed that it heats up quite a bit on the left side when in use, and I’m not talking about intensive use here either. Anytime I’ve had this thing on – whether I’m gaming or checking Facebook – the left side gets inevitably hot. It’s a big shame because I’ve actually enjoyed gaming in tablet mode on the Switch 11 V, and although it’s not what I’d classify as a deal breaker, the heat becomes hard to ignore after some time using the tablet.
The trackpad is another bummer for me. Maybe it’s because I’m spoilt by years of using the MacBook’s trackpad (which, for me, is the best trackpad on any laptop) but at times it lacks the responsiveness and accuracy that I’d like. At times, I’ve even preferred to use keyboard shortcuts and the touchscreen! You won’t be bothered by it for basic uses, however power users will almost certainly feel the difference.
Battery life hasn’t exactly been brilliant either. Although Acer claim 8 hours of battery, I’ve been lucky to get 5-6 hours on the best of days – and that’s without intensive or long spurts of gaming. I’d typically reach 4-5 hours on average if I dimmed down the display brightness and kept open apps to a minimum. If you’ll have constant access to a power supply you’ll be fine, but for a portable device I did expect better.
So, does this device hit the balance between work & play? Personally, I’d like to see a better selection of games & fun apps in the Windows Store to make devices like this more enjoyable to play with, but from a hardware perspective the Acer Switch 11 V definitely hits that spot.
The average battery life, trackpad and £529 price tag on the Acer Switch 11 V raise some question marks, but overall it’s solid device and the quality of the display, keyboard, speakers and performance make up for any negatives.
All in all, even in light of the caveats, I’m impressed enough to recommend the Switch 11 V.