The brand new and very interesting Switch 7 from Acer is a high-end tablet with stand and removable keyboard and Black Edition logo. The special thing about Switch 7 is that it is a fanless 13.5-inch tablet. Despite obvious thermal limitations, Acer has installed both an Intel Core i7-8550U processor and discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics.
Discrete GPUs are usually limited to 15-inch laptops, with 14-inch units occasionally seen in the wild. So it's an achievement in itself that Switch 7, a much smaller device, contains a discrete GPU. You also get an Intel quad-core CPU without a fan. Instead, Acer uses a so-called "Dual LiquidLoop" cooling solution to dissipate heat from these components and distribute it in the housing.
This is a completely passive cooling for a 15 W CPU and a 25 W GPU in a 13 inch tablet form factor.
Other basic hardware includes 16 GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD as well as an IPS-LCD with 2256 x 1504 (aspect ratio 3: 2), but only a 35.1 Wh battery. Plugging a discrete GPU into this device has taken its toll in at least one area, and that seems to be the battery capacity.
At the moment I want to talk about the build quality of the Switch 7. This is a product at a premium price of $ 1700. So I was a little disappointed with the final setup, both of the tablet and the keyboard cover included.
The materials used are good – smooth glass at the front, metal on the sides and back – but there are lots of seams in the construction, especially around the I / O and around the display, which makes it not look or feel as good as the best tablet or laptop designs ever. The Microsoft Surface Pro, for example, has a more refined metal design that matches the price.
There are also some alignment and symmetry issues with the Switch 7 that you wouldn't get with a better designed product. The webcam, for example, is offset by a large distance to the right for no apparent reason. Even worse is the display position and the bezels: The right bezel is about 2 mm larger than the left bezel, so the display is slightly off center.
As soon as I saw the device, I thought something was wrong with the bezels, and after about 10 measurements, just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating, I actually confirmed that one bezel is larger than the other. Certainly a bizarre design choice.
The foldable stand assembly is a neat concept in that it automatically pops out of the stand when the bottom edge of the tablet touches your desk. There are two buttons on this lower edge that release the spring-loaded hinge mechanism. From there you can set the exact angle according to your requirements. It is a practical system because you only have to place the tablet on your desk and it is already supported and ready for use regardless of whether you have connected the keyboard or not.
However, the system has some major shortcomings. The stand itself doesn't look good, at least in my opinion, and the groove on the back of the tablet is a dust magnet. After just a few days, dust and dirt had accumulated in the hinge cavity, which is difficult to remove or clean without compressed air. This problem does not occur with the Surface Pro's flat stand.
While you can set an angle for the stand, which, like the Surface Pro, can be fairly flat, the spring-loaded hinge prevents you from setting an angle that is more acute than the angle at which it pops out. This standard angle is suitable for desk work, but there are times when I like to use a more acute angle, especially in glamorous environments that the spring mechanism prohibits.
The other problem is that you can't let the hinge pop out without pressing both of the protruding buttons along the bottom edge. This isn't a problem for desk users, but say you want to open the stand on a soft surface like a bed or on your lap where the buttons may not touch your legs. In this situation, activating these buttons is much more difficult than simply reaching back and folding out the stand.
This is probably far too detailed on the stand, but it's a nice idea that just needs to be refined a bit.
I was much happier with the I / O that comes with this tablet: a single full-size USB port along with Thunderbolt 3 and a microSD card slot is pretty decent for a device with limited storage space, though a proprietary USB power port -C is annoying. The Eve V still offers the best I / O of all productivity tablets.
The Switch 7 has a fingerprint reader on the front next to the display, which has an average performance. Higher on the edges are the front-facing speakers of surprisingly good quality, possibly due to the limited volume that prevents terrible distortion.
The keyboard cover is obviously a key feature of the Switch 7, and it's nice to see that, unlike a specific Microsoft product, it's included in the price. The cover is a hit or miss, with plastic around the keys and an okay-but-not-amazing fabric on the other side.
However, the typing experience is good, with a tactile feel similar to most laptop keys, albeit a little lighter than normal. There's a bit of flexibility in typing, if not as much as I expected given the build, and it is neatly and effectively attached to the floor with pogo pens and magnets.
Perhaps the best feature is the included pen. It is a Wacom unit without electricity, but it supports 4,096 pressure levels and – best of all – is inserted into the body along the top edge. Yes, Acer has a special pen slot in which many of these devices are absent, making it difficult to lose the pen. This is a great solution for commenting on the go.