There’s no shortage of 2-in-1 tablets with Microsoft Surface-like designs. But the Acer Switch Alpha 12 manages to stand out.
Like the Microsoft Surface, this tablet has a 12 inch, high-resolution display and a detachable keyboard which also functions as a cover. And like the Surface Pro 4, Acer’s tablet is available with up to a Core i7 Skylake processor.
But unlike Microsoft’s tablet, every configuration of the Switch Alpha 12 comes with a keyboard and every model has a fanless design. With a starting price of $599, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is also cheaper than the latest Surface Pro models.
Microsoft does offer a fanless Surface Pro 4 with a Core M3 processor. But if you opt for a Core i3 or better chip, Microsoft will send you a tablet with a fan inside the case.
Acer engineered its tablet to use a liquid cooling system that keeps the computer from getting too hot without using a fan, radiator, or pump. The result is a machine that runs silently, even with a Core i7 processor
The tablet features a 2160 x 1440 pixel IPS touchscreen display, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an HD webcam.
It measures about 11.5 ” 7.9″ x 0.4″ and weighs about 2 pounds, while the detachable keyboard brings the total weight up to about 2.8 pounds and the thickness to about 0.6 inches.
Speaking of the keyboard, it has a soft, cloth-like finish on the back and a loop on the side for storing an optional Acer Active Pen. Typing is reasonably comfortable when using the keyboard, which has 1.4mm key travel, and tablet on a table. It will probably be a little more awkward to use on your lap, but you don’t need to worry about the keyboard and tablet separating: they’re held together very firmly by magnets, and you have to pull pretty hard to separate them.
Acer will also offer an optional backlit keyboard.
There’s a kickstand built into the back of the tablet, which allows you to position the tablet at angles between 90 and 165 degrees, and it also feels pretty firm.
While there aren’t a lot of ports on the tablet itself, Acer is also offering a couple different docking stations that you can connect either wirelessly or with a USB-C cable. These can add additional ports including HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, Ethernet, and USB.
Acer says the Switch Alpha 12 will be available in North America in June for $599 and up. The starting price gets you a model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but there will also be models with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of solid state storage. Each model should get up to 8 hours of battery life.