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Although the Acer Aspire Switch 10 is very affordable, it’s another hybrid which is neither great at being a laptop nor a tablet. It’s both bulky and fiddly. We like the IPS screen and the multi-mode ability thanks to the magnetic hinge (minus the top heaviness). However, the keyboard and trackpad are lacklustre and there really nothing to get excited about in terms of specs and performance. We’re yet to be convinced by a hybrid.
At its New York launch event earlier this year, Acer announced its new hybrid tablet and laptop with Windows 8. Here’s our full Acer Aspire Switch 10 review. Read: The 25 best tablets of 2014.
The Switch 10 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and can be picked up for £289 – a little more than the Toshiba Encore. Acer will be taking on the Lenovo Yoga and other hybrids like the Asus Transformer range and Samsung Ativ Q.
It’s certainly affordable but that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Read our Acer Aspire Switch 10 to find out what this hybrid has to offer.Acer Aspire Switch 10 review: Design and build
Like Lenovo’s Yoga devices, the Switch 10 can transform between four different modes: laptop, tablet, tent and display. It does this with what Acer calls its ‘Snap Hinge’ which, with the help of magnets, clips the tablet to the keyboard dock. It does so fairly easily although quite aggressively – the two are unlikely to separate unless you want them to.
This is the device’s main selling point and it works well, but the hinge doesn’t fold all the way round like the Lenovo Yoga though, so don’t try that unless you want to risk breaking it. Instead you have to spin the tablet around 180 before folding it back down onto the keyboard, leaving it upright in display mode (below) or standing the device in tent mode.
We have discovered an unfortunate design flaw in the Switch 10. If you push the screen away from you in laptop mode the device eventually falls over due to the weight of the main tablet section. This perhaps won’t occur if you buy the keyboard dock with a hard drive but we can’t say for sure.
The keyboard dock doesn’t have a battery to charge the tablet like some hybrids but does come with an optional 500GB hard drive. It has a USB port on the right hand side as standard which is handy for plugging in a mouse or an external hard drive – the main tablet doesn’t have one.
As is all too common, the keyboard and trackpad are nothing special; the former makes for pretty fiddly typing due to miniature size keys and the latter was quite sporadic during our time with the Switch 10. It also requires a deep press for mouse buttons.
Overall, the Aspire Switch 10 feels a bit chunky but sturdy at the same time. The tablet alone is 8.9mm which isn’t bad but at around 1.2kg when the device is docked to the keyboard is pretty heavy for a 10in laptop.
The build quality of the keyboard dock is distinctly cheap and plastic but things are better when it comes to the tablet. It feels solid and although it also uses a certain amount of plastic, the brushed metal rear cover is a nice touch for a device as affordable as this.
Check out: The 13 best laptops: What’s the best laptop you can buy in 2014?Acer Aspire Switch 10 review: Hardware and performance
As you can gather from the name, the Aspire Switch 10 has a 10.1in screen which has good viewing angles thanks to its IPS panel. The touchscreen display is bright and colours pop nicely. It uses a 1366 x 768 resolution which is about right for the price. Read: Acer Iconia Tab 7 hands-on review: Budget Android tablet has 3G data and phone calls.
Although the screen is one of the best features of the Switch 10, we found the adaptive brightness unpredictable and annoying so switched it off. We also feel that Acer could have fitted in larger screen due to those fat bezels – 11.6in would fit by our measurements.
Not only would this make watching video and web browser much more enjoyable, it would make Windows 8.1 easier to interact with. Luckily, the touchscreen is nice and responsive but it’s not always easy to accurately hit where you’re aiming. On the software front, there’s fair amount of added bloatware – mainly Acer’s own but also other items like eBay. You can easily uninstall anything you don’t wish to keep hold of.
Inside is an Intel Atom Z3745 (Bay Trail T) 1.33GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Performance is reasonable and you’ll be able to do regular day-to-day tasks like web browsing and word processor on the Switch 10 but don’t expect the device to cope with anything remotely strenuous.
We measure the Switch 10’s performance with PCMark 7 and got a result of just 2486 points – somewhat disappointing for a quad-core x86 processor. Our graphics benchmarks using Stalker: Call of Pripyat yielded a poor result averaging 10fps over four different tests.
On the battery life side of things we measured 6 hours 15 minutes in our looped-video rundown test – playing an HD quality film over Wi-Fi with the screen set to a comfortable 120 cd/ms brightness. A reasonable result which means the device should get you through a day of varied use.
There’s a choice of 32- or 64GB of internal storage and our 32GB review sample has only 10GB free out-of-the-box so it might be worthwhile investing in the higher capacity model or the keyboard dock with a built-in drive. Alternatively, there’s a microSDXC card slot on the side of the tablet so you have a few options here.
Alongside the microSD card slot are a couple of handy ports. There’s a microUSB port (not for charging) and a Micro HDMI port. These make it easy to connect other devices to the Switch 10, or hook the device itself to a larger display.
Acer includes a 2Mp front facing camera for video calls and it’s refreshing to see front facing stereo speakers which are mounted below the display.Specs Acer Aspire Switch 10: Specs
Windows 8.1 32-bit Edition
Intel Atom Z3745 1.33GHz quad-core
32GB Flash storage
2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
10.1in – IPS LED backlight Touchscreen, 1366×768, 16:9
Intel HD Graphics
2 Megapixel webcam
Stereo speakers, microphone
802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
2-cell lithium polymer
Micro-HDMI Headphone/microphone combo jack Micro-USB 2.0
Full-size USB (keyboard dock)
microSD card reader
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Funky, eco-friendly design.
Preloaded with Windows 11.
Short battery life.
Keyboard quirks might annoy you.Our Verdict
The Acer Aspire Vero would have earned a stronger recommendation among midrange laptops, particularly for environmentally conscious people with budgets of less than $1,000 to spend on a laptop, but the disappointing battery life holds it back.Best Prices Today: Aspire Vero
There are two headliners that make the Acer Aspire Vero more than an average, midrange laptop. For starters, it’s made with PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic that makes the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly but also results in a notebook with a funky, textured design that lets the Aspire Vero stand out from the 15.6-inch laptop crowd. The other headliner is inside the machine—it’s the first laptop we’ve reviewed that’s preinstalled with Windows 11.
Powering Microsoft’s latest operating system is a Core i7 chip from Intel’s latest series, integrated Intel Xe graphics, and an ample 16GB of RAM. The laptop feels snappy, but its battery life disappoints. I also have a few quibbles with the display and keyboard, but they’re relatively minor. With a longer runtime, the Aspire Vero would earn a stronger recommendation for students or anyone looking for an eco-friendly, big-screen laptop.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. We originally published this review on October 4, 2023, but updated it on October 20, 2023, after installing a driver that increased battery life by roughly half an hour. The update doesn’t change our rating our opinion, but added tangibly more endurance to the notebook. Be sure to make sure your Vero gets updated if you purchase one.Specifications
We reviewed the Acer Aspire Vero (model AV15-51-75QQ) that costs $899.99 on Amazon and direct from Acer.
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-1195G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920×1280 IPS
Connectivity: Right side: 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A, combo audio jack. Left side: 1 x USB SuperSpeed 10Gbps Type-C, 2 x USB SuperSpeed 5Gbps Type-A (one with power-off charging), HDMI 2.0, ethernet.
Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Biometrics: fingerprint reader
Battery capacity: 48 Watt-hours
Dimensions: 14.3 x 9.4 x 0.7 inches
Measured weight: 4.0 pounds (laptop), 0.6 pounds (AC adapter)
Acer will have two versions of the Aspire Vero. The model we tested is available starting Oct. 5, and a lower-cost model will be available later in the month for $699.99 with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Both models feature a 15.6-inch, non-touch display with a full HD resolution rated for 250 nits of brightness.The eco-friendly laptop
Many companies have pledged to reduce their environmental impact by some future date, and Acer has a stated goal of using 100-percent renewable energy by 2035. As a consumer, you can support companies you believe are doing their part to combat climate change, but the long lead time toward making meaningful change can make it difficult in the here and now to feel like anything is getting done.
Consumers can make a more immediate impact with their purchase decisions. And with the Aspire Vero, you are buying a laptop that reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills or the ocean. Acer also states that the use of recycled plastic in the Aspire Vero also results in a reduction of CO2 emissions because recycling plastic uses fewer fossil fuels than manufacturing new plastic.
Here are the stats on the recycled materials in the Aspire Vero: 30 percent PCR plastic in the chassis and 50 percent PCR plastic in the keycaps. Acer pairs the eco-friendly laptop with eco-friendly packaging made from 85 percent recycled paper. And in an effort to sustain the lifespan of the laptop and lengthen the time before it ends up in a landfill, Acer makes it easy to get inside the Aspire Vero to make repairs or upgrades by using standard screws on the bottom panel. (As someone who has searched for the right-sized Torx screwdriver to repair various MacBooks over the years, I can tell you that this seemingly small gesture is greatly appreciated.)
A sustainably designed laptop wouldn’t do much good if that design were ugly or boring for the simple reason that people would continue to buy regular laptops. And the Aspire Vero’s design isn’t boring. It might not be for everyone, but I really like the look and feel of the laptop. Where most laptops zig with smooth, brushed surfaces, the Aspire Vero zags with a textured enclosure. The texture feels like a very fine canvas. There’s no finishing coat of paint used or any paint used for the laptop’s name badges or logos. Each is stamped into the surface of the chassis, adding to the laptop’s unique look.
The laptop is primarily gray with tiny yellow and gray-blue flecks. The yellow highlights continue on the bottom panel with yellow feet and on the two keys of the keyboard, which I’ll get to shortly. The chassis features squared edges and is fairly thin for a 15.6-inch laptop, measuring only 0.7 inches thick. At four pounds, it carries an average weight for its size. Given its trim profile, however, it feels a bit heavier than I expected.
The plastic chassis feels mostly solid. The lid is rigid to offer good protection for the display, and the keyboard deck feels firm except at the top above the keyboard, where there is a worrisome amount of flex. The bottom panel features four yellow, rubber feet to keep the laptop firmly rooted in place and to help airflow through the vents. There are also two tiny yellow feet on the display hinge, and they swing down when you open the display to prop up the back edge of the laptop to further aid airflow and create a slight angle to improve your typing experience.
The keyboard is comfortable with quiet keys that still feel springy and responsive. The keyboard features one-level backlighting. Multi-level keyboard backlighting would be more useful for matching the strength of the ambient light, and it would be more eco-friendly because you could keep it a dimmer setting to lessen the laptop’s energy consumption.
Acer squeezed in a number pad to its right, but the keys are narrow, which limits its utility. The four arrow keys are less than full size to accommodate the addition of the numpad, which is a big sacrifice. I’d happily jettison the narrow numpad for a full-size set of arrow keys.
I’m afraid I’ve buried the lede with the keyboard. The most striking detail are the R and E keys. The letters are yellow and reversed. I’m pretty much a touch typist so don’t glance at the keys with any great frequency, but I still find it distracting. Acer added this touch, it says, as a reminder to Review, Rethink, Recycle, and Reduce. (I always thought there were three R’s for the environment and they stood for reduce, reuse, recycle.) After already making the commitment to purchase the Aspire Vero, do its owners need that reminder? I’m okay with the yellow lettering, but I’d rather not have the two backwards letters messing with my brain.
See the yellow, backwards keys?
In addition, I think Acer has the display brightness icons backwards on the F3 and F4 keys and for no apparent reason. Shouldn’t the filled-in sun be the one that makes the display brighter? As it is, that key dims the display and the F4 key with the hollow, dark sun raises the brightness.Average audiovisuals
The 15.6-inch, non-touch display features a full HD 1920×1280 resolution. The resolution is sufficient to produce a crisp image. Text and images look clear and free from blurring and pixelation. The biggest drawback to the display is its brightness—or lack thereof. It’s rated for only 250 nits, which is common to budget laptops. When the price starts to climb closer to $1,000 as with the Aspire Vero, you enter the midrange laptop category where you can and should expect displays with 300- to 400-nit ratings.
Our tests confirmed that the Aspire Vero’s display peaks right around 250 nits. It suffices for a typical indoor environment, but you’ll struggle to see the display not only if you take the laptop outside but also in a room filled with natural sunlight. I had the display brightness set to its max for my entire time with the Aspire Vero.
The 720p webcam above the display is merely average. It produces a moderately sharp image when video conferencing under ideal lighting conditions but struggles when you are in a setting that’s too bright or too dark. The picture quickly gets blown out if there’s too much light and appears very grainy at the first hint of your room being a bit dark.
Likewise, the Aspire Vero’s stereo speakers produce average laptop audio. They sound fine for YouTube videos and Zoom calls but lack the separation and bass response needed for enjoyable music playback.
You won’t need to carry a dongle in your laptop bag with the Aspire Vero; it features both USB Type-A and Type-C ports. There’s also an HDMI port and Ethernet jack but no media card slot.Acer Aspire Vero performance
Based on the quad-core Intel Core i7-1195G7 CPU, the Aspire Vero did well on our benchmarks, proving that an eco-friendly laptop isn’t necessarily underpowered. It felt peppy during general Windows use and handled multitasking with ease. The biggest disappointment was its lackluster battery life.
We haven’t reviewed many 15.6-inch laptops recently, so I added a trio of 14-inch midrange laptops to a pair of 15 inchers for performance comparisons. At the low end is a budget Gateway laptop based on a Core i3-1115G4 CPU. The other 15.6-inch model here is the AMD-based HP Envy x360 15. The 14-inch models are the Core i7-based Acer Swift 5, Core i5-based Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2, and the Core i7-based MSI Prestige 14. Each system features integrated graphics and 16GB of RAM, except the budget Gateway, which has 8GB.
Next up is Cinebench, a sort of CPU sprint that stresses the CPU rather than the GPU and makes use of all processing cores. The HP Envy x360 again took top honors, and the Aspire Vero again was tops among the Intel systems.
On a per-core basis, the Aspire Vero is fastest on Cinebench, but with only half the cores as the AMD-based HP Envy x360, it loses ground when all cores are accounted for.
We use the HandBrake utility to convert a 30GB movie to Android table format, an intensive task that stresses the CPU and all of its cores. If you’ve been following along, then it will come as no surprise when I tell you that the HP Envy x360 completed our HandBrake test in the shortest amount of time with the Aspire Vero finishing second.
On our 3D graphics benchmark, the Aspire Vero again finished second but this time behind the MSI Prestige. Whether with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics or integrated AMD Radeon graphics, none of the laptops distinguished themselves on 3DMark. There is nothing for gamers to see here.
Our last result—battery life—is perhaps the test that matters most to most laptop users. And it’s not great for the Aspire Vero. We loop a 4K video in airplane mode using Windows 10’s built-in Movies & TV app with earbuds in place until the battery dies. The Aspire Vero’s small, three-cell battery ran for just over seven hours, which is better than the budget Gateway but far less than the other midrange laptops that ran for more than 10 hours on the test.Short battery life spoils the deal
If not for the meager battery life, the Acer Aspire Vero would have earned a stronger recommendation among midrange laptops, particularly for environmentally conscious people with budgets of less than $1,000 to spend on a laptop. It features a roomy if somewhat dim display and a comfortable if somewhat quirky keyboard wrapped up in a youthful, eco-friendly design. It provides sufficient performance for student life outside of gaming, and you won’t find a laptop with decent 3D graphics muscle at this price.
We could live with the display being on the dull side and the few oddities about the keyboard, given the price, but the limited battery life is a bigger obstacle to recommending the Aspire Vero for people who need a laptop that they can carry across campus or the office all day, then use for more work at night without worrying about making recharging stops. Compact laptops often feature small, three-cell batteries, but a large, 15.6-inch laptop like Aspire Vero ought to have room to accommodate a bigger battery for a longer runtime.
Good selection of portsCons
Annoying bloatware comes pre-installed
Touchpad is a little hard to useOur Verdict
With its affordable price, decent performance, and robust build, the Acer Aspire 5 is a great budget option for most people.Best Prices Today: Acer Aspire 5
Are you in the market for Windows laptop? Don’t want to spend more than $500? Then an Acer Aspire laptop is likely near the top of your list. Aspire laptops routinely take the top slot in Amazon’s list of best-selling laptops with some models dipping as low as $369.99. The model we tested for this review is the best of both worlds. It’s reasonably priced and it delivers pretty good performance.
Enter the Acer Aspire 5. This laptop packs an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, and is among the most expensive in the Aspire line. But that doesn’t mean it’s expensive. It has a suggested MSRP of $499.99 and sometimes retails for as little as $479.99. A Windows laptop with a recent Core i5 processor for less than $499.99 might seem too good to be true. Acer certainly makes sacrifices to achieve it. Still, the Aspire 5 is a competent and enjoyable laptop.Acer Aspire 5 A514-54-501Z specs and features
The Acer Aspire 5 pairs an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a PCIe solid state drive. Buyers interested in graphics performance should note the Core i5-1135G7 packs Intel’s Iris Xe graphics with 80 execution units and a maximum clock of 1.3GHz. This isn’t Intel’s fastest integrated graphics option, but it’s a big leap up from Intel UHD graphics found in most 10th-generation Intel Core hardware.
CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7
Graphics/GPU: Intel Iris Xe
Display: 14-inch 1080p LCD
Storage: 256GB PCIe solid state drive
Connectivity: 2x USB 3.2 Type-A, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (data only), 1x Ethernet, 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x 3.5mm combo audio, 1x DC-in barrel plug
Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
Battery capacity: 53watt-hour
Dimensions: 0.71 x 8.88 x 12.9 inches
Weight: 3.75 poundsDesign and build quality
IDG / Matthew Smith
The Acer Aspire 5 is what you get if you show up at Jo-Anne Fabrics and order 14 inches of laptop. They’ll roll it out, cut it, roll it back up, and hand it to you in a tall paper bag. It’s up to you to iron out any wrinkles once you get it home.
What the laptop lacks in flair is excused by its solid, durable feel. I’ll even admit the laptop has something in common with a would-be suitor on The Bachelorette: it’s generic, yes, but admittedly handsome. The silver-and-black trim is businesslike and the black keycaps look attractive.
Well, there is one quirk. The display lid is slightly more bronze than the rest of the laptop. It’s not that noticeable in real life, though the difference is plain in photos.
The laptop comes in at .71 inches thick and 3.75 pounds. It’s no featherweight, but it will easily slip into most laptop bags and is light enough that you can forget you’re carrying it at all. The power adapter is small and will slip into a small pocket on a backpack, messenger bag, or purse.Keyboard and trackpad
The Acer Aspire 5 has a great keyboard. The key layout is spacious and individual key travel is significant. Key feel is a bit vague but not so bad as to spoil the experience. I spent hours typing and found it to be quick, accurate, and comfortable. So long as the lights are on, at least.
The keyboard lacks a backlight. This isn’t uncommon in the $500 price bracket, but still worth noting, as it makes the laptop difficult to use in a dark room.
You’ll enjoy the Acer Aspire 5 most when it’s on a desk with an external mouse attached. This will let you enjoy the solid keyboard and ignore the lackluster touchpad.Display, audio
IDG / Matthew Smith
The Acer Aspire 5 packs a 14-inch, 1080p display with a matte coat. It’s basic, but not unremarkable, as it’s at once better and worse than expected.
Let’s start with the bad. The display has a limited color gamut, coming in at just 64 percent of the sRGB scale. Color accuracy is a bit worse than average as well, though not awful. The narrow color gamut and mediocre accuracy saps vibrancy from the display.
The disappointing color performance is paired with a strong contrast ratio of up to 1300:1, which is respectable for a budget laptop. Brightness is good, measuring up to 290 nits. That’s high enough to make the matte display usable in nearly all indoor lighting.
Don’t forget the display’s 1080p resolution. This might seem basic to enthusiasts, but budget buyers often find themselves facing laptops with an inferior 1366-by-768 display. Going with 1080p makes the Aspire 5 easy to use and ensures crisp, sharp text.
A pair of downward-firing speakers provide the laptop’s audio. They’re loud at maximum volume and tuned towards a clear, crisp mid-range. The speakers are a good match for podcasts, YouTube, and some streaming, as dialogue always stands out. The maximum volume can compete with moderate ambient noise like that from a large fan or office HVAC system.Webcam, microphone
The Acer Aspire 5 has a basic 720p webcam and a single microphone. Both perform well enough for most Zoom calls but never impress. Those hoping to look crisp in a video conference will need to budget for a decent external webcam.
The good news? The Aspire 5’s top bezel is thick, so most external webcams can perch on top of it without obstruction. The laptop also won’t tip over with a heavy webcam such as the Dell Ultrasharp 4K attached.Connectivity
IDG / Matthew Smith
The Acer Aspire 5 uses its thick frame to make room for lots of old-school connectivity. There’s a total of three USB Type-A ports (two USB 3.2 and one USB 2.0), one USB 3.2 Type-C supporting up to 5Gbps of bandwidth, full-sized HDMI, Ethernet, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack.
The connectivity will be ideal for most buyers. Those looking at a budget laptop will likely use devices that require USB-A and HDMI connections.
Wireless connectivity is the usual combination of Wi-Fi 6 with Bluetooth, both provided by MediaTek’s MT7921 wireless LAN card. Wi-Fi performance was reliable across my home. I had no problems connecting a Bluetooth mouse and headphones.Performance
So, do the specifications lead to respectable performance?
IDG / Matthew Smith
PCMark 10, a general productivity benchmark, starts the Aspire 5 off on the wrong foot with an unimpressive score of 3,902. That this ends up behind faster Intel Core processors is no surprise. However, the real problem is AMD. Ryzen 5 processors, which are found in mid-range laptops like the HP Envy x360 15.
On the other hand, it’s worth keeping the price in mind. Most Ryzen 5 laptops are priced well above $499. AMD’s Ryzen 3 is more commonly found at $499 and below. The Acer Aspire 5’s score can be excused by the fact it’s by far the least expensive Windows laptop we’ve tested in recent months.
IDG / Matthew Smith
Cinebench R15 also turns in a fairly anemic result which, as with PCMark 10, is largely due to the Core i5-1135G7’s quad-core design. It can’t keep up with AMD processors that pack more processor cores. As with the PCMark 10 results, the Aspire 5’s must be kept in mind. Laptops in the Aspire 5’s price range often have Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 3 processors with as few as two cores. These will deliver even less impressive results.
IDG / Matthew Smith
This second test performs the same encode on the same file, but instead uses Intel’s Quick Sync and AMD’s Video Coding Engine to enhance performance.
Wow. It’s a big leap, isn’t it?
The Acer Aspire 5 does well, performing the encode in just over four minutes. Its score comes in slightly behind the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, a 14-inch Windows laptop with a Core i7 processor. The AMD laptop, using VCE, slips behind both Intel machines, though its encode is still over four times quicker than before.
IDG / Matthew Smith
Intel’s Iris Xe graphics power the Acer Aspire 5 to a score of 1,226 in 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark. This is not too far behind the HP Envy x360 15, which we reviewed with an AMD APU packing Radeon Vega 8 graphics. Gamers will find the Aspire can handle older and less demanding games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends with no issues. Demanding titles like Control won’t be playable at 1080p and 30 frames per second even at low detail.Battery life
Acer ships the Aspire 5 with a 53 watt-hour battery. This is a respectable size for a budget laptop. However, our battery test, which loops a local video file until the battery gives out, reported only six hours and 35 minutes of endurance. That’s not a great result.
IDG / Matthew Smith
Real-world results backed up our test. I used the Acer Aspire 5 extensively for several days and each day pegged endurance at six to seven hours. My workflow consisted of web browsing, writing in Microsoft Word, and photo editing. The battery life is fine for a budget Windows laptop. It can’t handle a full eight-hour work day, but it’s enough for most cross-country flights and more than adequate for use at a local coffee shop. Budget buyers looking for enhanced portability should turn their attention toward Chromebooks like the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 or HP Chromebook x2 11.Software
The Acer Aspire 5 arrives with a variety of pre-installed software. This includes Norton Antivirus, Dropbox, Firefox, and a taskbar shortcut to Amazon’s main page that simply opens the default web browser (which is still Edge, though Firefox is installed). Additional web links such as chúng tôi can be found in the Windows Start menu. While a tad annoying, these extras aren’t a problem. They don’t hamper performance or generate unwanted pop-ups. Norton Antivirus is by far the most annoying software, but it’s easy to uninstall.Conclusion
The Acer Aspire 5 avoids typical budget laptop pitfalls. Windows laptops sold at this price or below often make extreme cuts. They may have a dual-core processor, just 4GB of RAM, or a tiny 128GB hard drive. This laptop does none of this. It delivers the bare minimum for an enjoyable Windows 11 experience and does so at a price just tens of dollars more expensive than less capable alternatives (including other Aspire models). That makes it hard to beat for $499.
The Acer Swift 5 is an extremely light laptop. Others with 13-14in screens tend to weigh 40% more. We’re not talking about a trifling few grammes here. It roughly matches the weight of the 12in MacBook, which is far less powerful. The Swift 5 has an obvious appeal for people who need to carry their laptop around all the time but don’t want to be left with a computer that can’t handle demanding applications. The weight comes with a cost, although not a financial one considering laptops with the same CPU often cost well over £1000. Battery life is the biggest concern: six hours may not get you through a day jam-packed with meetings. The fan is also quick to start spinning, and is quite noticeable when it does. For the average user, the older, heavier Swift 5 or longer-lasting Swift 3 may be a better fit. However, we can’t expect Acer to bend the laws of physics, and making a laptop so light and yet powerful remains an achievement.
The 2023 Acer Swift 5 is one of the lightest 14in laptops to date. It weighs about the same as a 12in MacBook, and when you pick up its box you’ll wonder whether they forgot to put the laptop in.
That’s not the lone appeal, though. £300 cheaper than several laptops with similar specs, it has the value factor that has seen us recommend several Acer models over the last 18 months.
There are trade-offs: the Acer Swift 5 starts to sound like a toy jet aeroplane under the light pressure and alternatives last longer between charges. However, it’s so alarmingly light and well-priced this is still a top choice for those who have to carry their laptop around 24/7. Your shoulders will thank you.Price and availability
You need to be careful when shopping for the Swift 5, at the time of review at least. The version we’re reviewing is the
It’s hard to find though, so the Core i5 model – which is enough for most people – has an RRP of £899.
The Swift 5 comes with a one-year “carry-in” warranty, where you have to arrange getting your laptop to a service centre.Design and build
The secret to the Acer Swift 5’s amazing low weight can be summed up in one word: magnesium. Where most premium laptops are made using aluminium, this shell is a magnesium alloy.
Magnesium is stronger than aluminium, but doesn’t feel immediately as impressive. And this, perhaps more than anything other reason, is why aluminium is so popular in phones and laptops. Magnesium is not as cold to the touch, and some even mistake it for plastic at first.
However, it remains an excellent material for a laptop shell, and has been used by some very high-profile models including the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Magnesium brings the Acer Swift 5’s weight down to 970g, which is 400g lighter than the last Swift 5 we reviewed, and around the same amount lighter than other obvious competitors like the Dell XPS 13. We tend to downplay the importance of superlative specs and Top Trumps-style weight rivalries, but you can immediately notice the difference here.
Some may find this worrying initially: if it’s this light, there must be something wrong? However, the main panels of the Swift 5 are stiff, and the laptop looks good.
The style is two-tone. Most of the shell is dark blue, and there are gold hints throughout, including the inner part of the hinge.
Perhaps surprising, the Swift 5 isn’t radically slim as well as radically light, though. A shade under 15mm thick, it’s almost 50% thicker than the HP Spectre 13, but that laptop is also slightly heavier and a lot more expensive. You need to stretch to the Swift 7 to get thin-ness too: it’s 8.98mm thick, slimmer than some phones.
And that’s just showing off.Connectivity
Ultra-slim laptops tend to be the most aggressively forward-looking in terms of their connections. Often annoyingly so. However, the Acer Swift 5 takes a more old-school approach that should please a lot of you.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, the full-size kind, and a full-fat HDMI socket on the right side. You can just plug your peripherals in, no need for adapters. The Acer Swift 5 also has a single USB-C port, although it’s the standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 kind, not an ultra-fast Thunderbolt 3 connector.
As the Swift 5 uses a separate cylindrical power socket, none of the connections are “used up” while charging.
The obvious missing part is a memory card slot. You’ll need to carry around a USB card reader if you plug-in a microSD or SD card regularly.Keyboard and trackpad
The Swift 5 doesn’t quite have the best keyboard and trackpad in this slim and light class. But each does its job well enough.
Its keyboard is light, the action on the soft side. However, there is a backlight, keys are well-spaced and there are no obvious layout issues to worry about. The magnesium frame also makes the keyboard stiff, with very little flex. Too much can ruin the feel of a keyboard, and it’s an issue in some Asus rivals.
It’s a quality keyboard, if not quite Acer’s best.
Just about the trackpad sits a small fingerprint scanner. It looks like one of the old kind of “swipe” scanners, once common in business laptops, but is actually just a normal static pad on which you rest a finger to login using Windows 10’s Hello feature.
It’s a passable scanner, but not among the best. Rather wide, you need to be careful about finger placement to cover the entire pad, which is required to make it function. You may need a few attempts to login.Screen
The Acer Swift 5 has a 14in 1080p IPS LCD screen. This is what we’re after in a sub-£1000 portable laptop. Most higher-resolution laptops cost more these days.
It’s a rich-looking display whose only issue is limited top brightness. 255cd/m really isn’t all that bright. And as the finish is glossy, reflections are also an issue outdoors. This is an important problem considering the Swift 5 is a “take me anywhere” laptop.
This screen has very good colour reproduction for the price, covering 90.8% of the sRGB standard. In some shades it even exceeds this standard too, with 102.1% coverage (by volume) when these are included.
A year or so ago laptops like this tended to hit around 75-85% of sRGB, and creeping above 90% is worth celebrating if you’re picky about colour saturation.
For those interested in the deeper colour gamuts, the Swift 5 covers 66.4% of Adobe RGB and 71.4% of DCI P3.
Contrast too is superb for an LCD at 1467:1, and the Swift 5’s screen tilts just a smidge over 180 degrees, offering plenty of flexibility for a standard, non-hybrid, non-touchscreen laptop. The display fares better in the home than out in the park on a summery day, but does look great indoors.Performance
The Swift 5 has as much power as some laptops costing £1499. It uses the Intel Core i7-8550U processor, a quad-core chipset with a clock speed of 1.8GHz and a Turbo clock speed of 4GHz.
If you’re upgrading from a 7th Gen CPU or, more likely, an older one, the raw performance difference is huge. Fitting four cores into such a small chipset has allowed Intel to squeeze in the sort of power we only used to get from chunky 3kg workstations.
Of course, general Windows performance will actually be similar to that of any recent Core-series laptop. This “bonus” power doesn’t really come into effect if you’re browsing Facebook, funnily enough.
Again, this isn’t something that becomes obvious in normal use, just when handling very large amounts of data.
At the time of writing, in January 2023, we’re in a funny old place for laptop performance. CPU vulnerabilities dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre” have prompted system updates that reportedly have a marked effect on performance.
Our Acer Swift 5 arrived without these applied so we’ve been able to test both pre and post the update. Pre-update, it scores 13606 in Geekbench 4, almost double what you’d see from a laptop with a last-generation Core i7 CPU. Fully updated we saw virtually identical scores: 13672 points.
It could be that Windows 10 sneaked-in a quick forced update we didn’t notice, but performance is still far better than any slim Core i7 laptop from the last generation. However, the Lenovo Yoga 920 did do better, with a score of 14423. The Core i7 version of that laptop also costs £1349, though. It’s significantly more expensive.
In PC Mark 10 it scores 3374, roughly matching the recently reviewed HP Spectre 13 x360 (3422 points). Despite the low weight, this is a good performer that can handle demanding apps.
Intel’s 8th Generation improvements are all about the CPU side, not the integrated GPU, so gaming performance is not significantly better than last year’s models. Alien: Isolation runs at an average 34fps at 720p resolution, Low settings, which we’d call comfortably playable if not ideal.
That drops to 14fps at 1080p with all the effects turned back on. And that’s too juddery for our tastes.
A more demanding game like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a step too far for the Swift 5, averaging 14fps at 720p (Low settings) and 3.5fps at 1080p, Ultra settings. You can play older games just fine, and some from the last five years if you drop the resolution and simplify the graphics. However, there are better options for keen gamers.
Right now some of these haven’t made the leap to 8th Gen CPUs, but something like the £949 HP Envy 13 with GeForce MX 150 graphics will play games more smoothly. It’s also 400g heavier, so it’s time to consider what your top priorities are.
One aspect of the Swift 5 you’re likely to notice during the first few days is the fan. While this laptop will stay silent if you simply write a document, the fan kicks-in very early. Just transferring files to the SSD from an external drive or installing an application can make it start spinning, and it has the classic sound of a fan with a small diameter.
The pitch is high and the fan sounds like it’s working fairly hard whenever it spins. Those who’ll use the Swift 5 in a quiet room or office may find it distracting. This is slightly disappointing when some laptops that are the same size (if significantly heavier) have less noticeable fan noise.
Thinking about this a little more, Asus may have used smaller heatsinks here to further reduce weight, making the air-shifting properties of the fan all the more important.Battery Life
The battery has also been sacrificed to get below 1kg. Where the old Swift 5 had a 53.9Wh battery and lasted a solid 10.5 hours in the video playback test we put all our laptops through, the new model has a smaller 36Wh unit.
It’s another reminder you don’t get a laptop this light for “free”.
Playing a 720p movie on loop at 120cd/m brightness, the Acer Swift 5 lasts just six hours 36 minutes, which is roughly commensurate with the decrease in capacity since the last model in this series. It wouldn’t last a full day’s work, and that would be a problem for us. Make sure it isn’t for you before buying.
The iDevices HomeKit Wall Switch fixes one of the crucial issue with many smart homes. Not only does it fix a glaring issue, it comes with enough bells and whistles to make it the best HomeKit wall switch on the market.
HomeKit makes it effortless to control your home. From lights, locks, fans, speakers, and much more. All HomeKit devices play well with one another, so no matter the product you get, you know it will be compatible with your smart home.The problem with a HomeKit home
The most popular thing for smart home adopters is lights. They are something basic that everyone uses. The problem is, most people use systems like Lutron or Philips Hue. They (for the most part) cannot be controlled by switches in your house. While those systems are great, it makes it more difficult for you to control your lights without using your devices or Siri. That means you must always have a device present.
Obviously, that isn’t ideal for you 100% of the time, or your guests.
Yes, those manufacturers do produce their own switches, which may or not be HomeKit capable. They are still quite expensive, limited in their functions, and can only control their products.
Even if you did opt to use something like the Hue dimmer switch, that would leave your existing wall switches useless. If you turn them off, your smart lights will no longer function. It’s for that reason I see many smart homes with tape over their wall switches.The solution
To solve this, it seems pretty straightforward. You need to effectively take your wall switches, and turn them into HomeKit devices that can control any other HomeKit gear in your house.
Clearly, that is what the iDevices wall switch aims to do.What is it?
The iDevices Wall Switch is a replacement receptacle for your existing switches. This is not like the majority of smart outlets on the market that plug in to the wall. You actually have to do some wiring, which immediately can scare people off.
The device itself is a little on the large size, making it a bit of a tight fit if you have an overly crowded electrical box. Unfortunately, that isn’t something you may be aware of until you take your existing switch out.Installation
The installation of the iDevices switch is fairly easy to do. If you consider yourself fairly handy. You don’t have to do anything different than any other light switch, so it’s a pretty straightforward job that many people can tackle themselves. If you are nervous, it is never a bad idea to have a professional come out and handle it for you. Remember, always turn off the break before doing any electrical work!Why is it better?
There are several HomeKit switches on the market. So what sets the iDevices one apart? There are many unique aspects to it. To start, the LED nightlight in the center of the switch is also HomeKit capable. That means you easily change the color and brightness to customize it. They also paid attention to design. If you have this mounted in your wall, how do you access the HomeKit code printed on the side? Easy. They have a pull out tab on the top that also has the code, so you can easily access it at any time.
It is also WiFi-connected instead of just Bluetooth. That means you don’t have to be in proximity, or have a HomeKit hub nearby to make it work. The WiFi also allows it to work with other digital assistants like Amazon Alexa.
One of the biggest selling points, is that it also works in multi-switch setups. For instance, say you have a hallway light. You have one switch on one end of the hallway, and another switch at the other. You need a three-pole switch to make that happen, and a four-pole switch if you have another switch involved. Many other HomeKit switches will not work in that situation, but the iDevices one does. That is a big deal for those in larger homes.Automation
The automation aspect is really where HomeKit shines. There are a few common scenarios that work well with a HomeKit switch. Here are a couple that I personally utilized these switches for.
In the hallway, we have a switch downstairs, and upstairs. The lights are odd bulbs that I can’t replace with Hue. Most other HomeKit switches won’t work because it is a three-pole setup. What I did was replace a switch with the HomeKit one. Now I can control them from my phone, and schedule them. What was more useful though, was the addition of a motion sensor. We covered the Eve motion sensor in the past, and it worked well for this.
Now, when we come down the stairs, at night, the hallway lights come on. It’s fantastic because I can signify only certain hours, and turn non-HomeKit lights into schedulable, automated, smart lights.
In my living room, we’ve got lots going on. Again, lights plugged into HomeKit outlets, like the one from iDevices, as well as track lights up above. I also have an exterior door, right into the living room we use frequently.
In this situation, I used the geofencing feature of HomeKit to automatically turn the lights on when I arrive, and turn off when the last person leaves. Similar to the bedroom, it also allows me to tie them all together, regardless of how they are connected, and even put them on a motion sensor.
In the bedroom, we have a ceiling mounted light. The switch controls that ceiling light, as well as one of the outlets. The issues we had was that the Hue lights would not reach here reliably from where our hub was located downstairs. We also had more than one light to plug into the wall that wasn’t controlled by the switch. Lastly, we weren’t able to turn them on and off from bed. Just the one on the bedside table, but that was actually controlled by the wall switch. So if we turned it off by hand, the switch would no longer control it, or if the switch was off, it wouldn’t turn on at all.
To handle this, I installed the iDevices wall switch, and set up a few simple rules. First, when the switch is turned on, also turn on the HomeKit outlet with our extra lamp. When it turns off, do it in reverse. Now with one button press, everything is synced up together. Or I can use Siri from bed, and control just the switch, just the outlet, etc.
A fun other trick too, was to have my lights automatically come on in the mornings to help me get up for work.
iOS 11 additionally improves things, because there are timers. So when I turn the light on from the switch, it automatically turns off in thirty minutes.Night light
Though many smart switches have integrated a nightlight, the iDevices wall switch is the only one with a smart nightlight. The miniature LED positioned in the center of the switch can not only change color, but can be completely scheduled and automated. It actually shows up in HomeKit apps as a separate device. This has several practical uses.
In a bathroom, you can have an iDevices wall switch, and a motion sensor. During the day, when you walk in, the motion sensor tells the switch to turn the lights on. Doing the night however, the motion sensor tells the switch to instead turn the nightlight brightness up to 100% and a warm white, then when you leave go back down to a dim blue glow.
In the bedroom, use it as bedtime alarm for your kids. Red light means they must stay in bed, and green means they are allowed to get out. You can schedule it to go along with their bedtimes, and even have separate schedules for weekends.
For me, I use it to determine how late I’m running for work in the morning. It is easier for me to see a color rather than grabbing my phone and turning it on to see how much time I have left before I need to get up. With the nightlight, I have it change from green, t0 yellow, to orange, and then to red on workdays based on the time. With red meaning “Get out of bed now!”Pros and cons
Nightlight is HomeKit capable
HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Home support
Match your home design with any faceplate
Easy access to HomeKit home
3 and 4 pole support
iOS 11 makes it even better with new controls
Wi-Fi is more reliable than Bluetooth
Clean, simple design
Cheaper for rooms with many lights
Must provide your own faceplate
More expensive than other optionsWrap Up
I feel like light switches aren’t the most exciting thing. If you are to have a HomeKit home, they can not only be affordable, but necessary. Many rooms have several lights that are more expensive to replace than a single switch, and other lights can’t be replaced at all.
If you don’t use Alexa, Google Home, the nightlight, or three or four-pole setups, you most likely don’t need to splurge on the iDevices wall switch, and may be better suited for the Eve. However if any of those apply to you, then the iDevices offering is the best choice you can make.
You can buy the iDevices Wall Switch for $99.
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The Pop Home Switch costs $60 for a starter pack, which includes two Switches and a bridge to link them. Additional Pop Switches cost $39. Logitech
Logitech’s programmable Pop Home Switches let you string together and execute common smart home commands—like turning on and off lights, locking doors, and playing music—with the press of a button. There’s no need to ask a virtual assistant or even take your smartphone out of your pocket.Testing
The Pop starter kit comes with two Home Switches, two pieces of mounting tape, and a small wireless bridge. Each button has a replaceable battery that Logitech claims will last around five years with normal daily use.
Setup requires only a few minutes: Plug the bridge into an open outlet, download the iOS or Android Pop app, and enter your wireless network credentials. The app will scan your Wi-Fi network for other compatible connected devices. In our case it found the Sonos speakers, Logitech Hub with Harmony Ultimate universal remote, and Hue lights throughout the house.
To assign tasks to each button you use the app’s drag-and-drop interface. Each button can handle up to three different functions via a single press, a double press, or a long press. To create these commands, you drag individual devices (e.g. Living room Sonos Playbar) to a corresponding press type.
Beyond their basic functionality, the Pop Home Switches are also compatible with IFTTT, a common, automation-focused web tool and standalone app that lets you string together other conditional “recipes” using a vast list of web services and smart devices. It opens up a wider range of functions available at a simple button. If you own a Logitech Harmony smart remote and Hub, you’ll have access in the Pop app to the activities you’ve created their as well.
We experimented with dozens of commands over the course of a week, from simple on/off lighting Pops to more complex multi-device IFTTT recipes. Some of our favorites: A movie-watching Pop that dimmed our Hue living room lights, turned on the TV to the Blu-ray input, turned off all the other Hue lights in the house, and set our Nest thermostat to 70 degrees. A late-night insomnia Pop recipe that turned off the bedroom lights and started playing Max Richter’s 8-hour “Sleep” album on our Play:1 speaker, also proved useful.
The bridge that connects the Switches to a smart home system plugs into an electrical outlet. LogitechObservations
Logitech’s Pop Home Switches are easy to set up, beyond simple to use, and they work in conjunction with a number of popular smart home devices and platforms, from August smart locks to Belkin WeMo smart plugs. Throughout the week we spent testing them, the buttons worked flawlessly.
There are some minor annoyances, however. You’re forced to label buttons by location when you set them up in the Pop app, but Logitech doesn’t provide any visual means to distinguish between the two white buttons in the real world. (Send stickers!) If you don’t stick them in separate rooms, this can cause confusion.Add-on Switches do come in different colors, which eliminates this problem. Also disappointing is the fact that, as far as music is concerned, Pop Home Switches only work with Sonos systems at the moment.Conclusion
The issues we had with the Pop Home Switches were ultimately minor. And, as home automation gets increasingly complicated, it’s refreshing to have a simple, straightforward way to string together common tasks and control them all with a single button. This is especially true now that seemingly every Internet of Things device relies on a smartphone or tablet for control. Voice interfaces may be the future of smart homes, but until they become more reliable and easier to use, we’ll happily keep pressing our buttons.Details
Price: $60 for setup pack with two Switches and a bridge.
Smart lights: Philips Hue, Insteon, LIFX, Lutron
Connected music: Sonos
Smart platforms: SmartThings, Belkin WeMo, Lutron, IFTTT
Harmony remotes: Harmony Pro, Harmony Elite, Harmony Companion, Harmony Hub, and other hub-based Harmony remotes
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