With the rise of the Microsoft Surface and increasing strength in the 2-in-1 market, manufacturers are looking for different ways to stand out from the growing pack. In the case of the Acer Switch 7 Black Edition it's all about power - lots of power.
The Black Edition is the world's only fanless 2-in-1 with in-built discrete graphics - an Nvidia GeForce MX150, no less - alongside an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor. And yet there's no fan for cooling, thanks to Acer's Dual LiquidLoop system, so none of the bothersome noise as associated with fan-cooled systems.
But with so much power in a compact package, can the Black Edition stand up to scrutiny?
Acer Switch 7 Black Edition preview: Design
- 13.5-inch (2256 x 1504) IPS touchscreen display
- Backlit keyboard and embedded stylus (4096 levels of pressure sensitivity)
- 'Invisible' fingerprint scanner (under glass on screen)
- Acer AutoStand, auto-deployed and retracted kickstand
- 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB Type-C, separate power port, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card slot
- Weighs under 1.15kg
Having released generations of Switch products, Acer has now found its feet in terms of design - and the Black Edition looks very elegant indeed. We're not sure it needs the "Black Edition" scrawled on the trackpad, otherwise this is one well-made metal-and-glass 2-in-1.
There are some notable upgrades for the Switch 7. Whereas the lower-spec Switch 5 has a one-handed adjustable kickstand - meaning you can press the screen to reposition the angle, with the stand popping back into upright position when pickig up the tablet - the Black Edition has Acer AutoStand. This is meant to see the stand pop-out of its near-flush position ready for use, but we found it was reluctant to do so - so perhaps some tweaks are needed there.
Elsewhere the Switch 7 Black Edition has an embedded stylus tucked into its body, which removes the annoyance of having nowhere to store the screen-writing implement.
Speaking of screen, the Switch 7 Black Edition's 13.5-inch scale means it's small and portable - and under 1.15kgs total - but it certainly doesn't scrimp on resolution. With 2256 x 1504 pixels across that panel, it's around two thirds sharper than a Full HD panel. It's also an IPS display, ensuring great angles of view. And there's touchscreen control, as you'll find on most Windows 10 devices these days.
Beyond the edge of the display itself, however, there's another touch-sensitive section: an integrated fingerprint scanner, which is positioned under the glass of the screen itself. Outside of early prototypes it's the first time we've seen such an implementation in a real-world product - and it looks great. It does some nifty things too, with Windows Hello support meaning a press on the optical-based sensor will power-up the device once authorised (what's called POA - Power on Authentication) for one-touch power-up.
As you'll find in Surface products, the Acer Switch 7 opts for a full-size USB port. It's a step ahead of Surface by also including a USB Type-C port, which isn't used for the power cable to ensure it's always free for your peripherals.
Acer Switch 7 Black Edition preview: Power
- Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete graphics
- 8th gen Intel Core i7 chipset
- Dual LiquidLoop cooling system means no fan noise
All that sounds impressive, but the headline features in the Switch 7 come from its ultra power. Under the hood is an Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete graphics setup, which is like the mobile version of the GT1030. That's quite some power to squeeze into a device as portable as this.
Furthermore, the latest Intel Core i7 chipset set alarm bells rining for us at first. Typically such processors require considerable cooling in products this slim. But Acer has found a way around irksom fan noise with the implementation of its Dual LiquidLoop cooling system. Yep, this 2-in-1 has a liquid cooling system, so there's no fan noise to worry about.
The only thing that should concern is battery life. With so much power and ability - from processor to discrete graphics and power-hungry features such as the high-res screen - we suspect the Black Edition won't last long per charge. In its idle state behind closed doors at IFA 2017 - the largest European consumer tech show - it was showing 21% battery remaining with 51 minutes of life on the clock (that's sub-4hrs without ever asking the system to do anything but show a Windows 10 desktop background).
The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition is a ultra-powerful portable 2-in-1 with heaps of exciting features, such as discrete graphics, an embedded under-glass fingerprint scanner, integrated stylus, 8th gen Intel Core i7 power and a super-sharp screen resolution.
The problem with all that, of course, is two fold: the price is high and the battery life if low. Still, if you want all the power in a portable product like this then you're going to have to keep a plug socket nearby much of the time. That's the playoff between having heaps of exciting features and power and, therefore, limited longevity.
The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition will be available in Europe from December 2017, with prices starting at €1,999.