Acer Switch 3 review

A Surface Pro competitor at half the price

TODO alt text
Great Value

Our Verdict

Far cheaper than the Surface Pro and a little less capable, but the Acer Switch 3 is perfect if you're not looking to use high-end apps

For

  • Active digitiser
  • Excellent build quality
  • Great screen

Against

  • Tricky hinged stand
  • No good for games

Hybrid tablet PCs are filling up the market right now. They're versatile, they're highly portable, and they're desirable – with Microsoft's Surface Pro leading the charge. But it's far from the only horse in town; below it sits the Lenovo Yoga series, the Asus Transformer line, and many budget badged devices, like the Linx 12X64.

Acer has previous form – the Aspire One was one of the early trendsetters in the hybrid market, and previous Switch hybrid laptops have impressed.

You might expect the Switch 3, priced to land in the lower end of the market, to pale in comparison to its competition, but nothing could be further from the truth – this is a machine with features and build quality strong enough to stand up to the Surface Pro, if you'll forgive lacks a little in the power department. And that's why it has ranked highly in our best laptop list.

Spec Sheet

CPU: 1.10GHz Intel Pentium Quad Core N4200 (up to 2.5GHz burst)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505
RAM: 4GB LP DDR3
Screen: 12.2-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 type A, 1 x USB 3.1 type C, audio, MicroSD
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth
Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front
Weight: 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg)
Size: 11.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches (29.4 x 20 x 1.5 cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Acer Switch 3 is hitting shelves alongside the Core-toting Switch 5 (which should be around $1000/£1000/AU, though at only $439 (around £450, AU$560) this is a far more wallet-friendly option. 

The Pentium architecture means it's pricier than Atom-based competitors like the similarly-specced Lenovo Miix, but not by much, and the performance increase is significant.

You won't struggle to get hold of one, though it appears Acer is staggering the release; it's currently available in the US, and will hit UK shelves any time now. Like the Switch 12 before it, this latest model may take a little time to make its way to Antipodean shores.

Design

One thing is immediately clear as soon as you hold this hybrid: Acer's engineers have done a supreme engineering job. It's weighty, it's solid, and it's well put together. The unit feels as if it's been made of quality components and materials, and it'll certainly withstand a knock or two.

Even the included keyboard cover, clad in a sturdy matt fabric which won't stay pretty for long, has a stiffness to it that you wouldn't expect at this price point. It attaches via the usual magnetic strip you'll see on other hybrids, with an additional hinged magnet that attaches to the bottom edge of the screen and angles the keys while you're typing.

Acer's choice of screen, an extremely colorful 1920 x 1200 IPS panel, has decent viewing angles and, at 12.2-inches corner-to-corner, impressive pixel density. Its bezels are noticeable but inoffensive. You might even say they're useful, considering the keyboard riser.

Angles

Much of the Switch 3's strength comes from the rigid metal frame running around its edge, which extends into a u-shaped stand, technically adjustable to just about any angle. Technically.

Deeper angles reduce the resistance — damn those pesky laws of physics and leverage – and without any notching or locking, you're pretty much stuck to the full 165 degrees if you're laying it flat for drawing. We found this completely acceptable, but your personal tablet tastes may vary.