Acer Switch Alpha 12 hands-on review

At its global launch event in New York, Acer has taken the wraps off its new premium 2-in-1 tablet laptop which rivals the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. PC Advisor was able to attend so here’s our Acer Switch Alpha 12 hands-on review. See also: Best convertible laptops and tablets 2016.

Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

As with previous years, Acer launched a number of new products for 2016 including laptops such as the Aspire S13, smartphones, wearables and even a cycling computer. One of the most interesting is the Alpha 12 which is a direct rival to the Surface and arguable a clone. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 release date and price

Like the Aspire S13, the Switch Alpha 12 has a release date of May in Europe and the price is also 699 Euros. In the US it will be available in June with a lower price of $599.

As far as we’re aware, the keyboard cover is included so this is a cheaper option compared to the $899 Surface Pro 4 which does not. Other rivals include the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and the Huawei MateBook which are both more expensive.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 keyboard cover

Acer Switch Alpha 12 review: Design and build quality

Being a Surface clone/rival, the Alpha 12 is a Windows 10 tablet which can operate like a laptop thanks to a keyboard cover. It’s something even Apple is getting in on with the iPad Pro.

At the back, like the Surface, is a kickstand which flips round a long way (165 degrees) so you can position the screen facing upwards. The kickstand is a metal bar, though, with a rubber section for gripping the surface it’s on.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 design

Like the Surface and other rivals, the Alpha 12 comes with a keyboard cover. While there are differences in the design of the tablet itself, this attachment is essentially identical to the Microsoft Type Cover.

That’s not really a bad thing as it’s an excellent piece of design. The two attach satisfyingly together with magnets and metal connectors ensure you don’t need to fiddle around with Bluetooth.

Acer’s keyboard cover also features proper keys with 1.4mm travel and we found it a nice thing to type on. There’s a trackpad and a loop on the side with which to hold the optional Active Pen stylus.

As well as working flat, additional magnets mean you can angle the keyboard should you find it more comfortable. The regular model is not backlit but there is the option for this feature.

One of the interesting design points is that the Alpha 12 is fanless despite having a Core i processor – fanless rivals use the Core M chips instead. You can’t see it but a ‘Double LiquidLoop’ closed loop cooling system keeps on top of things where the heat circulates the liquid. 

Acer Switch Alpha 12 LiquidLoop cooling

We like the brushed aluminium cover on the back of the tablet and although the Alpha 12 is thicker and heavier than the Surface Pro 4 at 9.5mm and 900g (without the keyboard) it’s not too much more.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 review: Hardware and specs

As we just mentioned, the Alpha 12 comes with an Intel Core i processor. There’s a choice of Core i3, i5 or i7 6th-generation chip. There’s 4- or 8GB of RAM and a choice of 128-, 256- or 512GB SSD. You can add some storage of your own thanks to a concealed Micro-SDXC slot.

That’s impressive stuff but we’re not sure how much the top spec will set you back.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 screen

Keeping up with rivals, the Alpha 12 has a rather fetching 12in IPS touchscreen with a crispy Quad HD resolution (2160x1440) and uses the same 3:2 aspect ratio as the Surface.

It supports 10-point touch but you can also use the trackpack on the keyboard cover instead or even plug in a mouse via the full-size USB 3.0 port. There’s also a reversible USB 3.1 Type-C port which supports speedy transfers and display output.

Acer has also made a USB Type-C Dock which provides DisplayPort, HDMI, audio in, audio out, two Type-C ports and three USB Type-A ports. There’s also an optional ProDock which supports 11ad Wi-Fi and another optional item is the Active Pen stylus.

Acer Switch Alpha 12 ports

Other features include front-facing stereo speakers, a webcam and a rear facing camera should that be useful. Battery life is touted as up to eight hours, according to Acer. 

During our hands-on time with the Alpha 12 everything ran smoothly but there’s plenty to test further such as benchmark performance, whether the cooling system is up to the job and the battery life. Our first impressions are very good though.

Acer Switch Alpha 12: Specs

  • Windows 10 Home or Pro
  • 12in IPS touchscreen, 2160x1440
  • Up to Intel Core i7 processor
  • Intel HD Graphics 5200
  • Up to 8GB RAM
  • Up to 512GB SSD
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 3.1 Type-C
  • Micro-SDXC
  • 11ac Wi-FI with MU-MIMO
  • 292x201x9.5mm (tablet)
  • 900g (tablet)
  • Windows 10 Home or Pro
  • 12in IPS touchscreen, 2160x1440
  • Up to Intel Core i7 processor
  • Intel HD Graphics 5200
  • Up to 8GB RAM
  • Up to 512GB SSD
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 3.1 Type-C
  • Micro-SDXC
  • 11ac Wi-FI with MU-MIMO
  • 292x201x9.5mm (tablet)
  • 900g (tablet)

OUR VERDICT

It’s another Surface Pro 4 rival (or clone even) but it’s a quickly growing market where competition is a good thing. Acer has done a great job of packing in decent specs into a device with a nice design which hits a lower price point than rivals. It’s fanless with a Core i processor which is the most impressive thing.