Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review: The re’s no denying – not even from Acer – that the Surface Pro line has inspired Microsoft’s partners to follow suit in the 2-in-1 laptop category. With that forgone conclusion out of the way, Acer’s success with its new Switch Alpha 12 depends more on how Acer iterated on the design than whether it iterated at all.
With a 12-inch device that boasts a liquid-cooled, Intel Core I Series processors powering an IPS, QHD (2,160 x 1,440) display for up to eight hours – all starting at $699 (£550) – something tells me Acer is on the right track. It’s the first liquid-cooled detachable available on the market. It also happens to ship robust performance and features a stunning, vibrant 2160 x 1440 Quad-HD display. Plus, unlike the Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 consists of a keyboard cover in the box. Sadly, this convertible’s battery life is even shorter than the Surface’s.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Specifications
Processor 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU
RAM 8 GB
Storage 256 GB SSD
Display 12-inch Quad-HD (2160 x 1440)
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 520
Dimensions 11.5 x 7.9 x .6 inches/ 2.01 pounds (without cover)
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Design
For the Acer Switch Alpha 12, Acer opted for a Surface-inspired 2-in-1 design that mixes a tablet, a kickstand, and a keyboard. The kickstand pulls away from the aluminum back of the device, which highlights a brushed motif and Acer’s brand, in addition to a 5-megapixel camera.
The front of the notebook boasts a 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 display surrounded by a thick bezel. The underside of the tablet features magnets that connect with the keyboard cover, which could be laid horizontal or propped up at an angle.
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 has probably the most useful mixture of ports of any 12-inch convertible we have examined. The right facet is home to a USB 3.0 port, headphone/mic combo jack, a Type-C USB port, a micro-SD card slot and a power jack. Compare that to the Surface Pro 4’s lone USB port or the Miix 700, which has two USB 3.0 ports. However, one among them doubles as the charging jack. The Spectre consists of a Type-C port however also hosts a slower USB 2.0 port.
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 measures 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches and weighs 2.8 pounds when connected to the keyboard. Without it, the size shrinks to 2 pounds and 0.4 inches thick. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is barely thinner and lighter, (11.5 x 7.9 x 0.4 inches and weighs 2.4 pounds with the keyboard hooked up). The Lenovo Ideapad Miix 700 is longer, at 11.5 x 8.8 x 0.5 inches, however lighter, at 2.4 pounds. The HP’s Spectre x2 is taller, at 11.8 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches, and weighs 2.7 pounds.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Keyboard and Touchpad
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 features a bundled keyboard cover is surprisingly comfy. The keys have 1.4 millimeters of the key journey and require 58 grams of actuation force to be pressed down. That outcomes in clicky keys that have good feedback and are pleasant to use. When propped up towards the screen, the backlit keyboard buckled slightly, but I didn’t have this downside when I laid it flat.
The cover also contains a 3.7 x 2.1-inch touchpad that was a little short for my style; I usually discovered myself hitting the edge whenever I was scrolling with two fingers. Apart from it, I had more than enough room for gestures such as two-finger scrolling, pinch to zoom, and navigation.
Watch out not to dangle metal chains close to the right edge of the keyboard’s deck. As on many other laptops and tablets, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 has magnets that tell the device to go to sleep whenever you close the cover by bringing them into contact with the magnet in the bezel. The keyboard magnets are stronger than any we have ever seen. I eliminated the keyboard without problem dozens of occasions in the course of the context of reviewing the Acer Alpha 12 by merely pulling it.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Display
The 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 touch screen on the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is insanely vibrant and produces vivid, beautiful colors. However, it’s slightly on the warm side. After watching the trailer for Season 4 of Orange Is the New Black, I was swept away by the vibrant oranges of the new inmate jumpsuits. I could see little details, such as the tears welling up in Morello’s eyes at the visitation.
The panel of the Alpha 12 reproduces a superb 101 % of the sRGB color gamut, which is much higher than the ultraportable laptop category average of 90 %. The Surface Pro 4 was close, with 100 %, whereas the Spectre x2 fell behind, displaying off only 72 % of the gamut. The Lenovo Miix 700 fared better than the rest, covering 113 %.
In our color accuracy tests, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 had a Delta-E rating of 3.7 (the nearer to 0, the better), tying the Miix, however, lacking the average of 3.6. The Spectre x2 and the Surface Professional 4 put them to disgrace, scoring 0.7 and 0.4, respectively.
But nothing can touch the Switch Alpha 12’s brightness. The bright display had an average screen brightness of 432 nits, which is way higher than the 306-nit category average. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (382 nits), the Lenovo Miix 700 (330 nits) and the HP Spectre x2 (322 nits) have been all good however not as vivid as the Acer.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Graphics and Audio
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 comes with built-in HD 520 graphics can’t deal with demanding video games like Overwatch or The Witcher, however casual fare, such as Words with Friends, will be okay. Acer’s 2-in-1 notched a rating of 64,550 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark. That’s higher than the 47,040 ultraportable average in addition to the Surface Pro 4 (60,424), the HP Spectre x2 (52,450) and the Lenovo Miix 700 (21,995).
The audio that emanates from the Switch Alpha 12’s two front-facing speakers is noticeable but not extraordinarily loud. The sound was balanced, and I could simply make out the vocals, heavy drums and guitar on White Rabbits’ “Percussion Gun” — however it barely filled our medium-size conference room.The included HD Audio Manager software is meant to help when the 2-in-1 is connected to external speakers. However, there are a few presets buried in its settings. I would suggest leaving them alone, as they distorted the music when I tried them.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Stylus
The optional $50 Acer Active Stylus gives an easy method to draw or take quick notes on the Switch. From a distance, it could simply be confused for an ordinary pen. The Stylus has 256 levels of force sensitivity, which I saw when I enjoyed painting with the brush in the Paint app; I could simply make heavier or lighter strokes of paint. Though, the palm rejection was irregular.
The Acer Hover Access software helps you to customize the buttons on the stylus to launch apps, and offers quick access to programs suitable for the pen, together with Windows Journal, OneNote and Snipping Tool. Once you’re not using the stylus, it fits into a loop attached to the keyboard cover. The stylus is a helpful addition. However, it’s not as accurate as those from Microsoft and Lenovo.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Hardware and Performance
Our Review unit of Acer Switch Alpha 12 comes powered by 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD which makes it a superb productivity machine. I browsed the net in Chrome with OpenOffice Writer open in the background and noticed no lag, regardless of having 15 tabs open and streaming a Full-HD YouTube in one of them.
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 earned a respectable score of 6,398 on the Geekbench 3 benchmark overall performance test. That’s much higher than the ultraportable average of 5,157 in addition to the HP Spectre x2’s (Core m7-6Y75) 5,814 and the Lenovo Miix 700’s (Core m5-6Y54) 5,068. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with its Core i5 6300U processor scored higher (6,811).
It took 33 seconds for the Acer Switch Alpha 12 to transfer 4.97GB of combined media files, resulting in a transfer rate of 152.4 MBps. The Surface Pro 4 blazed past it, at 318.1 MBps. However, both of those rates are higher than the category average of 144.6 MBps. The HP Spectre x2 (149 MBps) also beat the average, whereas the Lenovo Miix 700 (96.7 MBps) fell far behind.
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 took 4 minutes and 32 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses on OpenOffice spreadsheet macro test. Only the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (4:11) completed the task more quickly; the HP Spectre x2 (5:34) and the Lenovo Miix 700 (5:59) took the longest.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Heat
There aren’t any vents or fans on the Acer Switch Alpha 12 because it’s the first water-cooled 2-in-1 available on the market. Competitors that uses Intel’s low-powered Core M CPUs, together with the HP Spectre x2, also avoid fans, however, don’t need water cooling because their less highly efficient processors don’t generate as much heat.
So how efficient is the water cooling? The Acer Switch Alpha 12 was capable of performing at a high stage all through our checks. However, it did get a little heat. After we had streamed 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, the back of the laptop reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit higher than our 95-degree consolation threshold. However, you won’t discover this if you’re mostly using the keyboard and touchpad.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Battery Life
Once you’re out and about with the Acer Switch Alpha 12, you will have to bring the power cord alongside. The Switch Alpha 12 lasted only 4 hours and 49 minutes on our Battery Test, which includes continuous internet browsing over Wi-Fi. That’s very shorter than the ultraportable category average of 7:49. Different 2-in-1s, such as the HP Spectre X2 (6:31), the Surface Pro 4 (6:05) and the Lenovo Miix 700 (5:43), provided more endurance.
Acer Switch Alpha 12 Review – Configuration Options
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 I reviewed included a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, a backlit keyboard cover, and a stylus will cost you $800. The beginning configuration costs $650 and consists of a Core i5-6200U CPU, 4GB RAM, a 128GB SSD and a keyboard dock. If you need the stylus with this configuration, you possibly can buy it separately for $50. The most expensive mannequin is $1,110 and comes with a Core i7-6500U CPU, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, a stylus, and a keyboard dock.
With a beautiful display, strong performance and future-proof ports, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 comes frustratingly close to being among The Best 2-in-1s you may buy. However, this system falls hard in one crucial area: battery life. If you need a high-resolution screen, better battery life, nd strong performance, it is best to splurge on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. The caution is that a configuration similar to that on the Acer Switch we reviewed costs $1,150 before a $113 keyboard cover, so it’s about $463 more. But overall, the included keyboard cover (and, in some cases, a stylus) makes the Acer Switch Alpha 12 a fairly good bargain, as long as you don’t mind taking the charger with you.
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