With the Acer Aspire Switch 11 V (starts at $499, £549, about AU$689) it's all about the hinge. It's the first thing you notice when you pull this 2-in-1 out of its box: the bloated gray tube growing out of the base. Apple designers are advised to take their blood pressure medication before viewing. Oncologists too.
The hinge is uncomplicated in all the good and bad ways that word implies. It allows the Aspire Switch 11 V's screen to effortlessly disengage, flip and tent with the base. But it's also ugly as all get out.
Other 2-in-1's in this category, like the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA ($329, £207, AU$479) and the HP Spectre x2 ($799, £799, AU$1,699), may look a little better while offering similar convertibility, but the Aspire Switch 11 V has them beat when it comes to ease-of-use. Don't ignore this ugly duckling.
If its bulging hinge wasn't odd enough, the Aspire Switch 11 V's exterior features a crosshatched pattern in two tones of gunmetal grey. You won't mistake this Acer for any of its competitors – few other laptops are as unique looking as the 11 V.
A brow and chin section of dark and textured plastic frame an aluminum finished main body. This two-toned and two-surfaced design isn't arbitrary; rather, it is unglamorously functional. As I'll explain, the textured plastic gives needed grip for pulling the screen off its base.
The two-tone theme continues inside. Here, unlike the outside, it is aesthetically pleasing because the colors contrast rather than blend: the black screen panel and keys pop against the gray of the laptop's base. The Aspire Switch 11 V looks its best when it's open.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Aspire Switch 11 V's input devices make good use of the limited surface area available to them. With many 2-in-1's, the keyboard and trackpad feel like afterthoughts: cramped, squishy and unresponsive. Not so with Acer's laptop. In fact, the keyboard and trackpad are highlights.
The keyboard's chiclet-style keys provide great feedback and are well spaced – I never felt like I needed to "reach." My only complaint is the keys' travel – they could use a little more – but it's a minor quibble with a keyboard that overall feels good enough for even enterprise power users.
The trackpad occupies just enough real estate to be accessible without getting in the way. But this isn't even the trackpad's best feature: its real strength is its multi-touch support. Scrolling, zooming, double-clicking – all the multi-touch functions are responsive and lag-free.
There is one negative: quite a bit of force is required to "click" the track pad – way too much for an action that is used so frequently. Fortunately, it wasn't an experience-killer. I just had to use the old trackpad tap for all my clicking.