Acer Aspire Switch 11 review

An affordable hybrid that runs Windows 8.1

Acer Aspire Switch 11

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We liked

The Switch 11 provides a netbook-like Windows 8.1 environment, with both a tablet and keyboard dock for a fairly reasonable price.

It lets you run (32-bit only) Windows software, without being restricted to an app store, and therefore you can use the same software you have on your desktop PC in a tablet. That is something a lot of people will definitely want.

Battery life is pretty good. You'd expect that, since it's one of the main driving forces behind Intel's Bay Trail processors – but credit is still due. PCMark 8 is quite a tough test for battery life, and any score over five hours is good, so the Switch 11 does well here.

We disliked

The Switch 11 is really not very well designed. Nearly every aspect of its build feels cheap, notably excluding the display. It's heavier than most tablets, and even some laptops when docked.

It's full of bloatware too, which takes up a chunk of the very limited space on the C: drive, and really makes the Windows experience less pleasurable.

While we can forgive its slow application performance, loading times seem quite long, and the overall feel of the device is a bit clunky. It's Windows 8.1, but not at its best. The slow performance may lead to frustration at times, made worse when the C: drive fills up and the Switch 11 no longer behaves itself.

Final verdict

Just as happened when I tested its predecessor, my feelings about the Switch 11 changed during use. The initial grumbles at the low benchmark scores were put to one side when it handled a 1080p video with ease, bearing in mind the price tag is still lower than Apple's starting price for a 16GB iPad Air 2.

The concept of hybrid tablets has some legs, and they bear a strong resemblance to netbooks, but Acer's execution falls short with the Switch 11. With limited hardware resources, lean and mean is the way to go, but the Switch 11 is loaded with junk. Uninstalling the whole lot makes the experience a good deal better.

Given the higher price than its predecessor, I feel the shortcomings of the Switch 11 cannot be ignored. It's not a great tablet, laptop or Windows 8.1 system. It's not particularly portable, it feels cheap and it's most definitely not powerful. But it works okay as long as it isn't given anything stressful to do.