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.