Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Acer Switch Alpha 12 review: A keenly-priced Surface Pro 4 rival

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
600
inc VAT (as of 25th July)

A silent performer, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is a surprisingly speedy and well made laptop hybrid

Advertisement

PC World and its ilk are rammed with laptop/tablet 2-in-1 hybrids. We all want something a bit more flexible than just a laptop, so pretty much every manufacturer is producing more portable devices for the user on the go and Acer is no exception, with the brand new Switch Alpha 12 series of hybrids.

Coming in three different flavours, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 could at first be mistaken for almost any other 2-in-1 ultraportable, with the HP Elite X2 first springing to mind. Sure Acer isn’t exactly rewriting the rulebook when it comes to design, but it could be forgiven for simply using a formula that works.

The brushed metal chassis feels reassuringly sturdy, and there’s very little flex when subjecting it to some pressure. The kickstand, which is an extension of the chassis back, is nicely rigid, with a rubber bottom to prevent the Switch Alpha 12 sliding all over the place. The whole thing just feels like a robust package, which should survive the usual knocks and bumps.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 tablet

There’s one aspect that really stands out from the crowd here, with the usual fan-powered cooling replaced in favour of a quieter, and possibly more efficient, LiquidLoop cooling system. The liquid-cooled CPU uses the evaporation and condensation of liquid in order to dissipate the heat produced. If having a silent running device is a big selling point, the Acer is a good pick.

Starting at £600, you get an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics 520 and a 128GB SSD. If you’re wanting something a bit beefier, you can opt for the i5 or i7 processor models, which come packaged with 8GB of RAM and the choice of a 256GB SSD. All models include a keyboard and pen too, which is a welcome change, as these are often expensive extras, even on high-end models.

Find out the best laptops you can buy

Keyboard, touchpad and stylus

While it’s great to have a keyboard included in the box, it’s a shame that it just isn’t quite up to par with the best examples around. For one, it’s a little bit flimsy, often bouncing around during heavy typing. Admittedly, I am a little on the heavy-handed side, but it’s still an issue nonetheless. I think the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet still has one of the best hybrid keyboards around, but then it's a lot, lot more expensive.

The textured keyboard surround is a bit of an odd choice, and isn’t all that comfortable when resting your palm on it. The chiclet-style keys are relatively tactile in use, and your average user isn’t going to have too many qualms during their time spent with it.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 keyboard and stylus

Sadly, I had some noticeable issues with the touchpad on the review unit I was sent. While it’s perfectly usable and responsive, the glossy touchpad didn’t really sit comfortably in the housing and frequently rattled about when typing and clicking. It’s a very noticeable sound, and with a device that’s marketed as being quiet, it’s a real shame.

Design

Acer has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to portability. It's just a touch on the heavy side, weighing 910g, but it’s certainly not fat, with the 9.5mm thickness making it easy to pop in your bag. It’s not as lightweight as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, but then again it is half the price.

It’s nice and easy to attach the supplied keyboard, and thanks to the reasonably strong magnets, it shouldn’t fall off unless you apply a substantial amount of force. The supplied Acer Active Pen is snuggly stored in a holster to the left side of the keyboard, so you should be at least a bit less inclined to lose it.

Ports and connections

Unsurprisingly, as it’s a portable 2-in-1, you’re not really getting a whole lot of ports and connections out of the box. While it’s welcome to see both a standard sized USB3 port and a USB Type-C port, that’s pretty much it, with a MicroSD card reader and 3.5mm headset port thrown in for good measure too. Obviously, you can’t really criticise it too much considering the lack of space, yet the HP Elite X2 came with an extra full sized HDMI port.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 ports right side

You’ll also have to make do with a wireless network connection, with just 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0. While the lack of an Ethernet port might be a deal breaker for some, it’s really not out of the ordinary on a portable device such as this. You could of course add one via a USB adaptor if need be.


Read more

Reviews