Laptop or tablet? It seemed a relatively easy decision before the computer industry started merging the two. So far, laptops that pretend to be tablets have fared better than vice versa, with one exception: Microsoft’s Surface. The Surface, now in its fourth incarnation, is the equivalent of an iPad that runs Windows10. With its optional Type Cover keyboard, the basic Surface 3 costs $459. Here’s the new Aspire Switch 11 V, which has a bigger screen, twice the memory and storage, can also run Windows 10. Its keyboard feels like one from a proper laptop, and its processor scores better. Surface or Switch? On the surface it seems a relatively easy decision.
But let’s take a closer look. The tablet part of the Switch 11 is plastic, not metal like the Surface 3. At 760g, it’s noticeably heavier than the Surface 3’s 622g, but in return you get a larger 11.6in display. Th is is bright and has decent contrast, but only covers 70 percent of the sRGB color range, compared with the Surface’s 97 percent. The Full HD (1920x1080pixels) resolution matches the Surface 3, and the extra inch brings Windows closer to laptop size. Connecting the keyboard nearly doubles the weight, but the keys and trackpad work well. There’s a version of the Switch that oﬀers a 500GB hard drive packed into the keyboard to complement the 128GB of ﬂash memory in the tablet. Magnetic prongs hold the keyboard in place, and a stiﬀ hinge lets you open it to a ﬁxed angle.
Truth be told, it’s a bit too stiﬀ and you’ll need both hands to open it. The keyboard section has a full-size USB3.0 port, while the tablet has a MicroUSB connector (rather than the new Type-C) for accessories and charging, a microSD slot for memory cards, and a micro HDMI port for a monitor. Thanks to the Intel Core M processor, Windows10 apps and webpages ran smoothly, no judder delays as we scrolled around. Forget about playing top-end 3Dgames, but the likes of Hearthstone and Minecraft work ﬁne, though the chip can get very hot inside, making the Switch 11 almost uncomfortable to hold. That waste of energy helps to explain the short battery life: we struggled to get more than four hours. Not like a tablet after all.