The nice thing about Windows 8.1 is how well it works on a tablet and on laptop, I know many will disagree but l am a Windows 8.1 fan and a hybrid device shows how well you can switch between tablet and laptop mode (and it will be even better with Windows 10). Acer’s Switch 10 is a hybrid device that is a laptop and a tablet in one device, it comes with Windows 8.1 and pretty affordable at around £289. The switch 10 is actually a tablet with an attachable keyboard, it can be attached as a traditional laptop or reversed around for display mode (see my pictures or more details). They keyboard has magnets on it that snaps the keyboard and display together. It is not quite as elegant a solution as the way a Surface connects and is more of a cluck than a snap.

The detachable keyboard is decent enough to type on but the keys are a little small and don’t travel that far so it is probably not something you would want to spend a massive amount of time typing on. The trackpad is pretty similar, it’s functional and does the job. The keyboard also has a USB 2 port on for extra connectivity and some models have an additional hard drive option in the keyboard, my review unit didn’t. One thing I did notice was due to the light weight of the keyboard in laptop mode it can tip back if the screen is pushed too hard, I have used some other hybrid devices where the device would consistency tip back when using it on my lap but the Switch 10 doesn’t do that.
So what is it like as a tablet? It has MicroHDMI for connecting to an external monitor or TV, MicroSD card for expanding the storage plus MicroUSB for connecting up USB devices. One nice thing is a separate charging port so the USB port is not tided up when charging. The Switch 10 is powered by an Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail T) chip and has 2GB of RAM and 32GB SSD drive. So it isn’t a powerhouse device that you are going to be editing videos on or heavy photo editing with photoshop however it is a lightweight device that will run modern Windows app from the store very well as well, apps load quickly and are very responsive. As it’s running the full version of Windows 8.1 and not the cut down Windows RT version like the Surface 2 so you can install any Windows program you like on it, you can install programs like iTunes and Google Chrome or anything else you like and the 10 inch screen is fine for traditional Windows programs. It probably isn’t the best device for heavy gaming on, the mobile chip is not really designed for 3D gaming but casual games from the Windows Store will work fine. I have to say the screen is pretty good, it runs at 1366×768 and clear and bright. Given it’s a budget machine I was presently surprised how good it was, it’s not to reflective and the picture is very sharp. I did find the sound was little on the quite side as maixmium volume but its fine for things like watching movies on when its on your lap. When it comes battery life, I found I got about 6 to 7 hours between charges so with occasional use found I got a whole day out of it.
As with most devices from OEMs it come with extra software that you may not necessarily want (some call it “crapware”), you can remove it if you want so it is not the end of the world and not as bad as other manufactures (I am looking at you HP). Some if it like the Ab software is designed so you can stream movies and music from your desktop PC to the device. Also included is a 2MP front camera which would be ideal for Skype and a 5MP rear camera taking videos and pictures. I am not sure how often you will be wanting to use it as a camera but the option is there.

So for £289 you get a tablet that can be used as laptop and runs the full version of Windows 8.1. The tablet it isn’t particularly heavy, just over a pound in weight, the keyboard does add some extra weight so that is a compromise you are going to make if you need a keyboard. In many ways it reminds me of a Surface 2, it is probably not as sophisticated exterior but it has the advantage of running the full version of Windows 8.1 so you can install anything you like on it. It’s a budget machine that is very capable, its light and can be used as a tablet or a laptop.

The good:

  • Light tablet
  • Good app performance
  • Affordable
  • Nice screen
  • Good battery life

The bad

  • Budget feel
  • Small keys on the keyboard
  • “Extra” software
  • Not much storage space left on the 32GB version

Have a look at the Acer Switch 10 in action:

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