Acer Switch 5
A flawed Surface Pro clone but its low price means it might appeal to those on a tight budget
SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £750 (£900 inc VAT) from uk-store.acer.com
While it clearly owes a lot to the Surface Pro, Acer has tried to make the Switch 5 distinctive through a different hinge mechanism: here, a picture-frame stand pops out from the rear of the tablet. It can’t lie near-flat like the Surface Pro and the support isn’t quite so sturdy, but for the purposes of holding the screen in a range of viewable positions, it works well.
The keyboard doesn’t veer far from the Microsoft original, connecting quickly and intuitively to the tablet, either lying flat or clipping magnetically to the front for a raised typing angle. While its rubberised feel isn’t quite as luxurious as the Surface, the actual feel is fine, with just enough travel and a little less bounce than on its rival. The trackpad feels smooth and responds well to multitouch gestures, and the same goes for the touchscreen itself. Acer provides its Active Pen stylus, too, and while it doesn’t have the weight or sensitivity of the Microsoft version, it’s still great for quick diagrams, annotations and handwritten notes.
The Acer shows, though, the value that goes into detail. Its 2,160 x 1,440-resolution screen is beautifully crisp, hitting a respectable brightness level of 323cd/m², but can’t match the Surface Pro on contrast or colour accuracy, with an average Delta E of 3.07. Audio is loud but rather tinny, and while it has a USB-C port, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack and a full-sized USB 3 port, it’s charged through a proprietary connector with the cable protruding awkwardly from near the top of the right-hand side. The edge-mounted fingerprint reader, which doubles as the power button, is perfectly effective, but hard to find by feel alone. This is an attractive, solidly built hybrid, but not the most thought-through design.
On performance, the Switch 5 is good without being outstanding; our Core i5-7200U model with 8GB of RAM managed a mid-table benchmark score of 46. That’s not a serious drawback unless you’re multitasking with heavy-duty apps, but the battery life – just shy of seven hours of video playback – might be. Were the Switch 5 cheaper, we’d say these compromises were worth living with. As it stands, though, they aren’t.
BELOW The Active Pen is great for quick diagrams or notes
ABOVE The keyboard detaches, very much like the Surface Pro