Versatile notebooks – those with screen turning full (or close to) 360 degrees – are hot these days. They combine laptop and tablet, so you’ll sort of get both with one buy. Moreover, the screen usually detaches, further reinforcing the feel of a true tablet. Acer Aspire Switch 11 SW5-111-102R is one of those modern two-in-one laptops, and we decided to take it under closer examination below.
It’s a Hybrid
Let’s start with the display. It’s just 11.6 inches big, but indeed possesses features many other screens don’t. It turns further than that of a normal laptop, so you can use the Acer in different modes like a tablet with a stand. It also transforms to a full tablet because you can detach the screen from the keyboard. The display is naturally a touchscreen (good choice for Windows 8.1 32-bit) and comes with a 1366×768 resolution.
Another point worth mentioning about the screen of Acer Aspire Switch 11 SW5-111-102R is the panel type. It happens to be IPS – In-Plane Switching – that is known for having wide viewing angles (178 degrees) and reproducing colors accurately. It’s a level up from typical TN (Twisted Nematic) panels, although response times on IPS panels tend to be worse than TNs, essentially making the latter better for an all-gaming machine.
There has been reports on top-heavy design, meaning that the components are installed in the display (rather than the keyboard) part. This means the Acer is prone to tip over when it’s used in the conventional laptop mode.
The Acer has a Intel Atom Z3745 processor with quad-core setup and 1.33GHz clock speed. Anybody can see that due to low clock speed it’s not a real powerhouse, lacking in performance compared to Core i3 CPUs. However, for such a hybrid laptop it probably works very well – especially when you use the Acer for everyday computing rather than demanding applications and games.
There’s 2GB of power-saving LPDDR3 memory installed on this computer. Hardly an adequate amount these days, it might be just enough if your primary use consists of simple web browsing and text editing. However, having 4GB RAM would be much better idea and especially for the price, shoud already be there. As for upgrading the RAM, I couldn’t find the information whether it’s user-replaceable type or not, but suspect it can’t be upgraded since it’s labeled as onboard memory.
The storage solution is a swift flash drive. It’s not a full-featured SSD, but an 64GB eMMC, sort of a poor man’s version of true SSD. The eMMC stands for embedded MultiMediaCard, which is basically a memory card put to the mainboard. Indeed, it comes with the disadvantages of a memory card, like slowness compared to SSDs, and is often used in some low-end laptops to keep the costs down.
It’s not that bad, still faster than a typical hard drive, but the size of 64GB imposes limitations on what you can actually store on this notebook. Being a small device, it doesn’t have an optical drive, but there is a microSD card reader available which you can use to up the local storage space.
Is it a gaming device?
No, not really. Acer Aspire Switch 11 SW5-111-102R wouldn’t work very well for gaming. The processor integrates an Intel HD (Bay Trail) engine for graphics, and as you might know, those things are not fast at all. Playing games full of graphics, such as Thief, Risen 3 and Assassin’s Creed IV would be virtually impossible due to low frame rates. The situation would be better with Minecraft, and reaching around 20 FPS on low settings should be possible. The same (or even better FPS) goes for World of Warcraft, too.
The laptop comes with two USB 2.0 ports, other being micro USB. There are however no USB 3.0s available at all, so you must settle for the slower transfer speeds of USB 2.0. If you want to use the Acer with a larger screen, you can do so through the HDMI output.
Networking is based on wireless, with a Dual-Band WiFi adapter installed on the system. It also supports Bluetooth 4.0 so you can transfer data between the laptop and, say, a smartphone easily.
The built-in HD webcam and microphone allow you to have video meetings on Skype and other applications.
Other noteworthy things
Acer Aspire Switch 11 SW5-111-102R weighs 3.22 pounds. It’s bit on the heavy side, although understandably touchscreen takes it toll. However, the listed battery life of up to 7.5 hours is excellent, and the device would last almost full day without recharging. In reality though, you can probably subtract an hour or so to get an idea of the actual battery life.
The Acer Aspire Switch is made for those people who want the best of the both worlds: a laptop and a tablet in one package. The detachable and turning touchscreen indeed makes the computer work as both. Performance-wise, it doesn’t do that good, particularly because of the 2GB RAM, but for basic use it suffices. Points must also be given to high-quality IPS panel type. Just don’t get this computer for gaming or other demanding stuff (such as programming or video editing) – the performance won’t be adequate for those. As it is, the Acer probably works best for those who don’t want to bother having two separate devices, but are looking for a convenient and rather affordable 2-in-1 solution to their households.