A $199 Windows 10 2-in-1 Computer

UPDATE: The below article was written when the Acer Switch One 10 laptop was first announced, before it was available for sale from merchants. The laptop is now available from a number of vendors. Two newsletter readers have reported buying an Acer Switch One 10 laptop from Amazon at http://goo.gl/YDSOcG.

I have written a number of times about Chromebook laptops. (See https://goo.gl/EjXA0n for my past Chromebook articles.) I love my Chromebook and use it often. I am enthused about Chromebook systems because they are low-priced and perform most of the functions that computer owners desire— checking email, surfing the web, playing games, spending time on Facebook, and, oh yes, reading the latest news in a certain genealogy newsletter. However, a new laptop from Acer may cause me to change my mind about low-cost laptops.


Acer’s Switch One 10 is a Windows 10 laptop that will go on sale next month. It will have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $249, but most discount retailers are expected to sell it for $199, plus or minus a bit. That’s a great price for a Windows 10 computer that will run any modern Windows genealogy program, including Family Tree Builder, Family Historian, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Heredis, and others.

A 2-in-1 PC (which Acer calls a convertible) has a hinge that allows the keyboard to be positioned in either of two ways: like a normal laptop or folded back to operate like a tablet, thanks to a latch-less magnetic hinge design. Yes, the Switch One 10 functions as multiple computers: a normal Windows 10 laptop, a tablet computer, and even a “tent” computer. See the pictures below to see all modes in operation.


For a $199 laptop, the Acer Switch One 10 should do many things well, although perhaps not many things simultaneously. It should run any of today’s Windows genealogy programs as well as check email, surf the web, play games, use Facebook, and, of course, read the latest news in a certain genealogy newsletter.

The new laptop contains a 10-inch multi-touch display (use your finger as a “mouse,” similar to that of many tablet computers), a quad-core Intel Atom processor, and 2 gigabytes of RAM memory. The device comes with 32 gigabytes or 64 gigabytes (for an extra $50) of solid-state disk drive storage, front- and back-facing cameras for video conferencing, and dual-band Wi-Fi. It even has a fingerprint reader on the back. The 10-inch display is covered by Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass, making it scratch resistant. The 2-in-1 convertible also features a USB Type-C port, which is used for data transfer at USB 3.0 speeds, video output, and charging.

The new laptop’s screen might be a bit small for some people. My present Chromebook has a 10-inch screen and I find it to be quite readable. Then again, I have 20/20 vision when wearing my glasses. A couple of my friends with less-than-perfect vision have commented that the 10-inch screen is difficult to read at times. You may or may not find the same problem with the new Acer Switch One 10, depending upon your vision.

With only 2 gigabytes of RAM memory and an Atom processor, this certainly is not a high-powered system. You won’t want to run processor-intensive applications, such as Photoshop or engineering CAD/CAM programs, while simultaneously surfing the web and playing games. Use your desktop computer for that. With limited memory and a processor of modest power, you probably will only want to run one program at a time, perhaps two programs if they are not processing-intensive. Still, for $199, the Acer Switch One 10 probably is the leader in the “computing power available per dollar spent” category.

This new laptop from Acer will appeal to many people who are looking for a low-cost second computer that can be carried anywhere. While many experienced computer users may still want a high-powered system on the desk at home, a low-powered and inexpensive laptop may be perfect for occasional checking of email, surfing the web, Facebook, and more when not at home. It also should work well on the living room couch when watching television.

To be sure, the new 2-in-1 computer from Acer sounds a lot like the netbook computers that were popular a few years ago. Netbooks were introduced in 2007 with the idea that such systems were to be simple: smaller and cheaper than the Windows laptops of the day. Buyers loved them so much that by 2009, many of the major manufacturers realized that netbooks were cannibalizing sales of higher-end laptops and started to impose cripplingly low system requirements on them. Attracted by the low price, people kept buying them, but they were disappointed by the performance they offered.

By the end of 2012, most computer manufacturers had pulled the plug on netbooks. The new Acer Switch One 10 appears to be a new reincarnation of the netbook concept, although with a different name. The quad-core Intel Atom processor should be more than powerful enough to run most Windows programs. The $199 price tag certainly is going to be attractive to buyers.

Acer’s Switch One 10 is not yet available for sale, but the company promises to start shipping by the end of July. It should become available in retail stores within a few weeks after that.


Does it have built in speakers for videos?


Dick, do you know if it would run The Master Genealogist? I had the next to last version and would love to have a cheap laptop that would run the program. Great article, thanks.


    —> do you know if it would run The Master Genealogist?


    I have no way of testing that. However, it should run all Windows programs, including all the genealogy programs.


I have an Acer netbook running Win 10. I love it–except for the Win 10 which I have come to loathe increasingly as time goes by. But the netbook itself is awesome. I use it for travel, do my payroll Excel sheets on it, surf the web (an embarrassing amount of hours per day, watch Netflix, do simple photo manipulation with Irfanview and generally rarely touch my laptop nowadays.
It’s easy to hook it up to a monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse for more of an officey desktop experience. I do this when I need to do serious work or prolonged writing. I’m a touch typist and find the new buttonless touch pads quite annoying and a real time waster. I no longer have a tactile cue as to where I am in regards to left-right so I often end up in the wrong place and have to start navigating again–sometimes more than once. They look nice but perform poorly compared to a simple left-right button which serve as an anchor for my fingers, IMO.
I would be very interested in this computer. The Win 10 is a real drawback, though. I wonder what solution people will come up with in the future for those of us who prefer Win 7 but for whom Linux is not a solution. I never thought I’d be considering Apple products, but if I’m going to be a prisoner of Win-Zenda, I may as well go for functionality. MS is driving me away from over 25 years of using their products.


    –> I love it–except for the Win 10 which I have come to loathe increasingly as time goes by.
    In my opinion, Windows 8 was a step down from Windows 7, and now Windows 10 is an even bigger step down from 8. A tech-savvy friend suggested that I try the Linux operating system, so I installed Linux Mint on an old desktop that I had stopped using. I will tell you that Linux is almost everything that I have ever wanted in an operating system. The only real problem is that I don’t know of any mainstream genealogy program that runs on Linux yet – but as Linux becomes more popular, that situation should improve. Linux is fast, easy, and the price is right – free.


    —> The only real problem is that I don’t know of any mainstream genealogy program that runs on Linux yet

    Look at GRAMPS at https://gramps-project.org/

    GRAMPS is the most popular Linux genealogy program today and also is available for UNIX, Windows, and Macintosh.


    I found that using Classic Shell (free) makes Win 10 work quite a bit like Win 7.


    Thank you. I’ll try it. I wish I could get MS to stop changing my defaults. I have certain programs (no thanks to calling them apps) I’ve relied on for years. They keep resetting the default to the stuff THEY think I should have. I’m beginning to look at Apple products because why not? MS seems bent on becoming Apple and is unlikely to do it as well, given the head start Apple has on them.
    I will try Classic Shell, for sure.


The Acer Chat service claims that this machine is currently available from them, but only a few are in stock. That suggests to me that there is a new one on the horizon, perhaps the one discussed here. The Chat guy denies that. The current price is $249. I find this confusing.


    —> That suggests to me that there is a new one on the horizon,

    The Acer web site agrees with you. It says the new Acer Switch One 10 laptop will be shipping by the end of July.


This is good news for me. Based on your review of the Chromebook, I bought the Acer 15″ from Costco last week. I’ve had two major disappointments with it. 1. I can’t run LastPass on the Chrome browser, and 2. I can’t run FamilySearch Indexing. I checked with Indexing support and there are no plans to support the Chromebook. I am probably going to return it and get this Acer Switch One 10. I always appreciate your reviews and recommendations! They are the main reason I buy your newsletter. Thank you, Dick!


Does it run effective anti-virus/malware/etc. software that doesn’t slow an already constrained machine down further?


    It runs all the normal Windows 10 utilities. You never, ever want to run a Windows system without anti-virus software. Of course, it will slow the machine down somewhat. At this price level you will not receive a high-powered system but it should be useable for running one or two programs at a time that are not memory and processor-intensive.


There is an Acer Aspire Switch 10 at amazon that was available last December.
It does not have good customer reviews.

Is this a new version? What is the exact model number?


    I believe it is a new model. When looking at reviews, make sure you are looking at Acer’s Switch One 10. I think earlier models did not have the word “One” in the model number. Neither Amazon nor anyone else is selling the Acer Switch One 10 just yet as it won’t be shipping until late July.


You said: “It even has a fingerprint reader on the back.”
Why would one want to have a fingerprint reader?


    —> Why would one want to have a fingerprint reader?

    Fingerprint readers are normally used instead of passwords when booting up the computer and loading the operating system. Fingerprint users are more secure than passwords at proving “you are really you.” As such, fingerprint readers keep your information much more secure than do normal passwords. However, every computer I have seen that has a fingerprint reader treats it as an OPTIONAL method of booting up. If you don’t want to use a fingerprint reader, you don’t have to. You make the selection when you first unpack the computer and boot it up for the first time.


    My only experience with a fingerprint reader was not a happy one. It stopped recognizing my fingerprint after two months and I had to get my computer guy to change it back to a password. It turned out to be one of those things that was lovely until it wasn’t.


Dick, This Acer Switch One 10 will be perfect for me, and I’ve been trying to locate one for over a week now. Finally called Acer Sales, and no one, including the warehouse is aware of this machine and if or when it might be released. Do you have a way to find out??


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