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Acer Aspire Switch 10 E review

This little 2-in-1 notebook doesn't measure up

Acer Aspire Switch 10 E review

Designed primarily for students and light entertainment, the Aspire Switch 10 E emphasizes its battery life while downplaying some of its low-performance hardware. This mostly includes quick, on-the-go activities, like responding to email, word processing, watching streaming video and Skyping friends.

That's about the upper limit of computing you'll do with the Switch 10 E. Thanks to its low end graphics chip and CPU, this machine is not capable of most PC gaming.

Benchmarks

Here's how the Acer Aspire Switch 10 E performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 1,164; Sky Diver: 445; Fire Strike: N/A
  • Cinebench CPU: N/A; Graphics: N/A
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 1,091 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 5 hours and 38 minutes (w/ keyboard); 7 hours and 44 minutes (tablet)

Although benchmarks show that the Aspire Switch 10 E has a decent battery, it falls flat in just about every area. The notebook comes with the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1, even though the processor is capable of running at 64-bit, which both hinders the system's performance and prevented me from being able to run Cinebench. Not even the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark could complete.

Scores for the remaining tests don't look very good. Both the Transformer Book T100 Chi (Cloud Gate: 1,404; Sky Diver: 562; PCMark 8: 1,217) and Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 (Cloud Gate: 3,706; Sky Driver: 1,862; PCMark 8: 2,141) outperform the Switch 10 E at every level. What's worse, the Transformer Book T100 boasts an 8 hour 38 minute battery life that far exceeds that of the Switch 10 E, even when its keyboard isn't attached.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 E review

Both competing notebooks outperform the Switch 10 E, and the Transformer Book T100 Chi has a slightly lower price tag. The Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 costs significantly more, but the superior hardware and features of Dell's tablet-laptop more than make up for the price difference.

Low Expectations

With a resolution of 1,280 x 800, the screen only barely qualifies as HD. Furthermore, it has a terrible glare, so forget about using it in open sunlight. I can hardly see a thing taking this machine outside, and even overhead fluorescent lighting can be bothersome.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 E review

That said, the hybrid nature of the removable display is pretty good for streaming movies and shows – so long as you keep it indoors, that is. Unfortunately, the speakers are barely audible unless they're at max volume. So, you'll need to pair it with a wireless Bluetooth speaker or put on headphones to hear anything.

Big battery, little use

What's supposed to make the Switch 10 E worthwhile is its battery life, which is rated to last up to 12 hours, depending on use. However, our benchmark tests show that it doesn't nearly live up to that promise.

The laptop ran the PCMark 8 benchmark for 5 hours and 38 minutes with the keyboard attached. Using it as a tablet alone extends run time to 7 hours and 44 minutes, but it still isn't close to the 12 hour mark Acer flaunts for this 2-in-1 machine.

In my own testing, this notebook gave me about 10 hours of on-and-off use, mostly for word processing, email, web browsing and streaming video through Chrome, with 30% battery to spare by evening time. With continuous usage, however, the Acer Switch 10 E's total battery life winded down to 10% capacity in 4 hours and 44 minutes.

The Switch 10 E has the potential to deliver a full day's worth of use. Though, given its specifications, there's not a whole lot to do with the notebook to put a big drain on the battery life.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 E review

While the modest hardware can extend battery life with low power consumption, it also limits the types of applications you can run. This is a significant trade-off, one that I don't think is worthwhile. The experience is a lot like working with a Chromebook, but now you're held back by limited processing power instead of a shoddy Internet connection.

Unfortunately, this same battery also takes forever to charge, especially when the notebook remains in use or is left in sleep mode. It takes almost three hours to fully charge the tablet from 30 percent, even with the system is shut down. This is largely thanks to the fact that the tablet uses a micro USB port and 2-amp charger typically used to juice up less power hungry Android devices.

Bundled software

  • Microsoft Office 365 - The notebook includes a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365, which includes access to applications like Word and Excel.
  • abPhoto - Automatically backup your photos to the cloud, where they can be organized and shared across multiple PCs and mobile devices.
  • abMedia - A music and video cloud streaming service, which is allows users to access their media from both iOS and Android devices.