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Acer Switch 3 and Switch 5 hands-on review

Acer Switch 3 and Switch 5 hands-on review: Amidst the slew of new Acer hardware unveiled at the company’s annual global press conference in New York, we were introduced to two new 2-in-1s to carry the torch on from last year’s Switch Alpha 12: the Switch 3 and Switch 5.

Acer Switch 3

Whilst both new 2-in-1s share a number of traits, the Switch 3 is clearly intended as the most affordable of the family, with a thicker design (9.95mm), more conservative hardware options and a lower price tag.

The 12.2-inch 10-point multitouch IPS display on the front packs in a WUXGA resolution (1920×1200) with a respectable 178-degree field of view, which sounds like a solid setup for enjoying media, helped by the fact that it also integrates a second-generation U-shape kickstand into its metal-backed design that you can set anywhere through its 165-degree range.

Akin to Microsoft’s Surface line and a number of other 2-in-1s, Acer has gone for a slimline lightweight backlit keyboard that attaches and detaches magnetically, boasting a thickness of just 5.85mm and 1.4mm of travel in each key, which feels more than enough when you consider the lacklustre keyboards on Apple’s latest MacBooks offer just 0.5mm of travel. It also features a pretty expansive trackpad that shares in the display’s 10-point multitouch compatibility to accommodate gesture support when navigating around the Windows 10 OS.

Although resolution hasn’t been specified there are a pair of 720p HD web cameras on the front and back for Skype and basic still and video capture, whilst artistic types will appreciate support for Acer’s Active Pen with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, palm rejection and Windows Ink compatibility, well-timed to coincide with the latest Windows 10 Creators update.

On the connectivity front the Switch 3 comes suitably well stocked with Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.1 ports; one Type-C and one full-size Type-A variant, alongside expandability possible via a microSDXC card reader.

As for performance, we’re not expecting anything mind-blowing, with Acer resorting to Intel’s more traditional Pentium and Celeron chipsets. RAM tops out of 4GB (DDR3) and internal storage ranges from 32GB up to 128GB of eMMC memory, whilst Acer promises up to eight hours of battery life.

Acer Switch 5

If the Switch 3 sounds a little underpowered for your needs, the Switch 5 offers significantly more punch with a larger price to match.

Although it features a similar design, it’s thinner at 9.6mm thick and offers a smarter kickstand that you can push down or pull up with one hand thanks to a new self-retracting design (it also boasts the same 165-degree range of movement as the Switch 3). Add to that the same backlit detachable keyboard used by the Switch 3 and a fingerprint sensor-laden power button with Windows Hello support and the Switch 5’s appeal as a productivity machine becomes apparent too.

The display packs in more pixels with an FHD+ (2160×1440) resolution, retains that 10-point multitouch support and Acer Active Pen support but is also accompanied by beefier audio leveraging the company’s own TrueHarmony tech and what’s called a ‘SmartAmplifier’.

Carrying the torch on from the Alpha 12, you can spec the Switch 5 right up to a 7th-generation i7 processor and what’s more, it’s fanless, cooled by the same LiquidLoop system we saw on 2016’s Switch. You can also lock in up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM and choose from either a 256GB or a 512GB SSD. That relatively thin profile also hides away a larger battery promising 10.5 hours of use per charge.

You get the same ports and wireless connectivity as the Switch 3 but the 5 also add in support for Acer’s USB Type-C Dock, which includes a DisplayPort, an HDMI, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, three USB-A ports, an audio in and an audio out.

For the extra oomph, you can expect to pay upwards of €1099 (approximately £925) when the Switch 5 launches in June this year alongside the new Switch 3, which starts at €499 (approximately £925).

Read next: Acer Leap Ware hands-on review


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