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Acer Aspire Switch 10
What's Hot: Great value for the price, sharp display, versatile keyboard dock, runs full Windows 8.1.
What's Not: It's a small Intel Atom machine, performance is more fast netbook than laptop replacement. Not a lot of internal storage.
Reviewed June 23, 2014 and updated October 2015 to add Special Edition video review by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
Is it just a coincidence that Acer and Asus, two companies that were the gorillas of netbook sales are back with the two most affordable and portable Windows 8.1 transformer style hybrids? We reviewed the Asus Transformer Book TF100 several months ago, and it was then the most affordable 10" to 11.6" tablet with keyboard dock on the market (among current generation full Windows machines). Acer's answer is now shipping: the Acer Aspire Switch 10-- catchy name for a great little PC companion. The Switch 10 starts at $379 for the 32 gig model and you get some nice stuff for the price: a 10.1" IPS touch screen, included keyboard dock, the latest quad core Intel Atom Bay Trail CPU inside and decent looks. We recommend the 64 gig model if you can afford it at $429 list.
The Switch 10 runs Windows 8.1 32 bit, and that means it can run any PC programs you wish; you know--those .exe programs like Photoshop, Visual Studio and MineCraft. Keep your expectations reasonable though, this isn't an Intel Core CPU and it's not up to the task of compiling 2 million lines of code or encoding 1080p video for export unless you have lots of patience. The Switch 10 is fine for everyday leisure and productivity work with the included MS Office 2013 Home and Student edition, web browsing, streaming video playback, email, editing photos and playing games from the Windows Store. No, it doesn't have the resolution or processing power of Microsoft Surface Pro 2 or Pro 3, but it's around one third the price.
The tablet has two gigs of DDR3 RAM, a 1.33GHz CPU with Intel HD graphics, 32 or 64 gigs of storage, dual band WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 1366 x 768 display. The tablet has a microSD card slot, micro HDMI, 3.5mm stereo audio and a micro USB port that supports USB host (dongle adapter for USB peripheral not included). The keyboard dock has a full size USB 2.0 port, trackpad... and nothing more. There's no secondary battery, but Acer says they plan to release a version with a hard drive in the dock, which would be handy because internal storage is in short supply.