Manufacturers have released a steady stream of convertible, multi-purpose devices since Microsoft launched its all-in-one touch-focused Windows 8 operating system. The Acer Aspire Switch 11 continues this trend and is designed to work as a fully functioning tablet or laptop.
The Aspire Switch 11 joins an already flooded market dominated by past Acer convertibles, as well as those from Lenovo, Asus, Dell and HP, which target the same mid-range price bracket and offer identical functionality on paper.
Design and build
The Aspire Switch 11 is a fairly basic looking hybrid and comes with a grey rectangular tablet section that clicks into a physical keyboard dock.
It's a fairly standard size for a Windows 8 device, measuring 298x192x10.6mm and weighing 760g.
Android and iOS tablet users will feel that the device is overly large, but it's important to note that Acer has loaded the Aspire Switch 11 with netbook-level ports and hardware.
The tablet section comes with HDMI, micro USB, microSD, power and headphone inputs, and the attachable keyboard adds a full size USB 2.0 input.
While far from top end, the Aspire Switch 11's tablet section is solidly built. Featuring a brushed metal chassis and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 front, it survived trips to and from the office in our satchel and an accidental encounter with a kitchen floor without picking up any scratches or blemishes.
The Acer Snap Hinge tying the tablet section to the keyboard also felt noticeably more solid than those on some competing convertibles. The hinge is a custom feature designed by Acer that lets the tablet section dock with its screen facing forwards or backwards.
This allows the Aspire Switch 11 to be set up as a traditional notebook, V-shaped tent or back-facing display.
The hinge is solid, but we were less impressed with the keyboard section of the Aspire Switch 11. It has a reasonably large 105x60mm trackpad, but the keyboard is pretty dire.
It's squashed together, and the keys have a spongy, unresponsive feel that makes typing on the Aspire Switch 11 fairly unpleasant. We also found that, despite its size, the trackpad regularly ignored or misread our input commands.
It's disappointing the keyboard and trackpad have these flaws, as otherwise the keyboard section is well designed. The Aspire Switch 11 isn't as top heavy as many of its competitors and won't fall backwards if rested on the lap unless the screen is pushed back to its widest angle.
Acer claims that the 11.6in 1366x768, Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD, In-Plane Switching display offers wider than average viewing angles and improved sunlight readability thanks to its use of Zero Air Gap technology. This aims to improve readability and reduce reflections by removing the space between the screen panel and LCD.
The screen is reasonably good considering the £330 price tag, but it isn't perfect. Colours are vibrant and contrast levels are reasonably good, although the screen is noticeably dimmer than on many competing devices and the viewing angles don't live up to Acer's claims.
The low brightness is our main problem as it affects the Aspire Switch 11's mobility. We found that even moderately bright light could make the display reflective and close to unusable.
Acer offers a higher-end version of the Aspire Switch 11 with an 11.6in 1920x1080, IPS LED touch screen, but we didn't get a chance to test one during our review.
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