By Charlemagne Losaria
Competition in the computer industry has gotten stiffer through the years. To stand out, companies must continue to innovate as well as defy product design norms to catch the attention of the ever discriminating consumers.
While most companies releases ?2-in-1? computing devices (which refer to devices capable of combining the portability of tablets with user functionality of laptops and desktops), Acer came up with the Acer Aspire Switch 12, which is on a different category on its own.
The Aspire Switch 12 is a versatile 5-in-1 product capable of transforming into five form factors. Initially, it acts as tablet with its sharp and vivid 12.5-inch touch-screen display. Its resolution is 1920×1080 with a 16:9 ratio.
Color representation is excellent on the screen, which is expected for a device with an IPS display. A capacitive pen, dubbed the ?Acer Active Pen,? is included in the package for easy note taking and sketching.
The Aspire Switch 12 features a detachable wireless keyboard which would allow users to convert it to a full-fledged laptop or desktop or even place it on a flat surface at an angle (tent view), which useful for reading articles on a coffee shop table.
The wireless keyboard works from 10 meters away from the tablet. When attached to the kickstand, a strong magnet helps hold the wireless keyboard in place as it charges. The detachable keyboard features a TrackPoint or pointing stick, similar to those found on the Lenovo ThinkPad series.
Two mouse buttons are present below the space bar. A power switch on the keyboard allows for turning on and off to save power when not in use.
Acer used high quality plastic on the body of the Aspire Switch 12 and is quite durable and feels rugged, build-wise. It has a bit of a heft to it, weighing at 1.1kg.
The retail package comes with a leather, envelope-like case, which is ideal for bringing the device with you without needing a traditional laptop bag. A laptop bag is not recommended for the Aspire 12 as the screen is exposed no matter what form.
Acer did go for Gorilla Glass 3 on the device screen, which helps protect it from scratches. However, I noticed that applying enough pressure on the edges of the screen will result to the LCD being pressed. While you probably won?t be applying too much pressure on the screen edges, it?s something that needs to be pointed out. The middle portion of the screen is very sturdy; it?s just the screen edges that are somewhat vulnerable.
A small, power button is placed at the topmost right corner of the screen, just beside a micro SD slot. This also serves as the sleep and wake button. A webcam is discreetly situated at the top part of the screen.
Meanwhile, the right side of the screen houses a 3.5mm headset jack, Windows dedicated button (same function as pressing the Windows key on the keyboard), and volume buttons. A single USB 2.0 port is present as well.
On the front side, two powerful speakers are present on the device?s kickstand, facing the user, ideal for watching movies without needing for headphones.
On the left side, you will find ports for the power jack, micro HDMI and Micro USB 3.0. A separately purchased adaptor is needed for you to connect your usual USB flash drives to the Micro USB 3.0 port.
The Aspire Switch 12 runs on the 64-bit Windows 8.1 out of the box and is powered by the Intel Core M processor paired with a 4GB RAM for a smooth user experience.
It packs an Intel HD Graphics 5300 GPU capable of running most HD games mostly on minimal settings. For storage, it uses a 128 GB SATA SSD.
Acer noted that it uses a non-removable 3220 mAh battery which should last you a couple of hours, depending on the use, before needing to plug it to an outlet. The charger that came with the device is portable as well.
The Acer Aspire 12 is a versatile device capable both for work and play. It is portable enough to be carried around and can be transformed to any form for different usage scenarios.
The screen is vivid and clear, and touch screen is very responsive. The detachable wireless keyboard is a plus for those users who want to type efficiently.
Will this potentially replace your tablet? Most likely, especially if you are more of the business/work individual who needs to work occasionally and be on the go at the same time.
Will this replace your work computer? Depending if you?re a typical user or power user, answers will vary. Especially given the 128GB of storage and RAM available, it isn?t really the most powerful device to make you ditch your work desktop or laptop. It will run Microsoft Office with ease, but if you have other programs which require power and storage, this might not be for you. No word yet if the hardware components can be upgraded though.