Review – Acer’s Switch 5
Sometimes a bulky laptop just isn’t going to cut it for a user’s needs, yet the mobile tablet’s performance isn’t powerful enough; thus a ‘middle-ground’ device is ideal. Fortunately, modern technology has brought about the 2-in-1 laptop design to bridge the gap between the two. Various computer manufacturers have developed their own models and Acer’s new Switch 5 laptop provides users the solution to a need for a computer with decent performance combined with the portability of a tablet.
The Switch 5’s highly-mobile profile makes it a good choice for those seeking a portable option for fun, work, and school. Featuring a detachable keyboard, users can easily transition the system between laptop and tablet modes. Despite the slim design, the Acer Switch 5’s performance is nothing to be scoffed at thanks to its respectable specs.
Featuring a 2-in-1 design, the key to the Acer Switch 5’s portability comes in the form of its compact 12” form factor along with its detachable, backlit keyboard. The keyboard is able to be attached to the laptop and folded up as with any conventional laptop design (similarly to tablet covers), allowing for easy transport.
Aesthetics-wise, the Switch 5’s anodized aluminium chassis maintains the laptop an elegant and modern look to it, while the front is comprised of a full-length glass screen. With the keyboard attached, it weighs little over a kilogram at 1.27kg. Overall, the chassis is stylish and pleasant to hold.
Propping the laptop up is Acer’s patented auto-retracting kickstand, which lets users easily adjust the viewing angle with just one hand. By pressing down on the screen, the kickstand will slide open into its new position. The kickstand’s degree of flexibility is good enough to let it lie almost flat on the table.
It should be noted that, however, that the kickstand tends to reset to its upright position when used on surfaces apart from tables and solid, flat surfaces due to the kickstand’s auto-retracting nature and the keyboard’s lack of articulation. As such, it’s not as ideal for use on the lap like a normal laptop.
Being a 2-in-1 laptop, the Switch 5 incorporates a touchscreen, primarily for use in tablet mode. Accompanying the touchscreen is the Acer Active Stylus pen, a good compliment for those looking to be creative in art, especially considering the Switch 5’s impressive resolution. The stylus feels much like an actual pen, with two command buttons on it, and can draw smoothly.
For typing, the Switch 5 comes with a detachable magnetic keyboard that fits securely to the laptop, which can be further adjusted for a better ergonomic position. Users working in darker environments would find the keyboard pleasant thanks to the keyboard’s backlight. Also, the keyboard’s thin profile does not sacrifice typing performance – the keyboard is firm and feels comfortable to type with; the keys themselves have a good amount of travel for a better typing experience.
Aside from the keyboard, the Switch 5 also features a trackpad for further navigation potential in conjunction with the laptop’s touchscreen. The trackpad’s buttons also feel responsive with the left and right buttons. This allows users to have a touchscreen experience without forgoing the touchpad and keyboard.
With an emphasis on performance, the Switch 5 comes standard with Windows 10 and features a dual-core Intel® Core™ i5-7200U processor, which is more than an enough for tasks like presentations and regular office work. The processor packs enough power to support various mainstream programs like Microsoft Office and Adobe applications.
Coming with 256GB of storage space, the laptop uses a PCIe SSD that allows it to keep its write speeds up as well as maintain quick operation of the laptop. An SSD on-board coupled together with the laptop’s 8GB of RAM allows for quicker overall performance. This combination of specs allow the Switch 5 to handle regular tasks with ease.
Complementing the Switch 5’s touchscreen capability is the screen’s impressive 2160×1440 resolution. Everything on the screen appears sharp despite the smaller dimensions; the only downside to the Switch 5’s screen is its noticeably lower maximum brightness compared to other screens and monitors.
The Switch 5 comes installed with Intel® HD Graphics 620, which is sufficient for lightweight gaming; the lack of a dedicated GPU means that the laptop is not suited for titles outside small indie games. Though, this is an issue present in many 2-in-1 laptops.
Unique fan-less design
Diverting from traditional air-cooling designs present in most laptops, the Switch 5 utilizes Acer’s LiquidLoop fan-less cooling system to keep the system running efficiently with the added benefit of no fan noise, a significant feature that few laptops in the market have. In addition, the LiquidLoop cooling system does not have the need for venting, which can be problematic in the long run due to dust accumulation and airflow obstructions. The plus side to the laptop is that even under high workload, the Switch 5 remains quiet due to the absence of an air vent.
A Touch of Security
Doubling as the Switch 5’s power button is also a fingerprint scanner that is part of a biometric security effort in Windows Hello. The inconspicuous design is smart in the sense that Acer integrated the fingerprint scanner into the button that all users naturally press to turn the laptop on – the power button itself.
By configuring the user’s fingerprint as a login method, users can quickly, and quite literally, log in with a press of a button.
The Switch 5’s audio is projected through 2 narrow speaker grids at the top of the otherwise full-length glass screen. Audio playback shows that quality sounds a little tinny compared to full-range speakers, but given its design and nature, this is not necessarily a huge setback.
As with most 2-in-1 laptops, the Switch 5 features both a front and a back camera – the former being 1MP and the latter 4MP. While conventional laptop designs lack the back camera, the Switch 5’s 2-in-1 form factor allows one to easily take photos when the need arises. Photo quality is plenty decent as well.
Lining the top side of the laptop is a MicroSD card slot for extra storage options while the Switch 5’s right side features the usual 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack along two single USB3.0 Type-A and USB3.1 Type-C USB ports.
Although lacking in number of ports, the Switch 5 compensates with a Typc-C USB port not commonly found on most laptop models.
Liquid-cooled, compact, and running nearly complete silent while boasting performance able to rival an average laptop, the Acer Switch 5 is a good choice for those seeking a 2-in-1 laptop having a normal “clamshell” laptop’s performance with a tablet’s portability. The Switch 5 is equipped with just about everything the average user needs in a conveniently-sized package that is medium-priced. Being one of the few liquid-cooled 2-in-1 laptops on the market, its noiseless operation and decent performance are things to keep in mind on why the Switch 5 is a recommended choice.