The new Aspire Switch 12 S couples a familiar design with a bigger 12.5-inch screen, and bumps things up to a full HD 1080-pixel resolution, as standard. Also gone? All of that plastic. I spent some time with the new Switch 12 here at CES in Las Vegas, and it offers a decidedly more upscale experience than its smaller, budget-minded 2-in-1 hybrid laptop predecessors.
You're paying a premium price, too: The Switch 12 S starts at $999 (about £680, or AU$1,385 when converted). It'll be available in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa starting in February, though availability will vary by region.
Microsoft's Surface Book is my daily driver, and I've got to press and hold a button, wait a beat, and then pull to separate the tablet and keyboard. And I still think the authoritative snap when you're detaching the Surface Book sounds and feels awesome.
But then I pick up the Aspire Switch 12 S, and just yank on the tablet end to separate it. The magnets are strong enough that there's no way I'd split the two halves accidentally. But it isn't too difficult, either. And suddenly Microsoft's solution seems a little over engineered.
The hinge on the Switch's keyboard base is similarly rigid, but tilts back without much effort. It also transfers power from the tablet to the keyboard, so you don't have to charge both ends -- a bit of a sore point on some older 2-in-1 devices.
The biggest upgrade is easily the anodized aluminum shell. At just over 3 pounds it's readily totable, and it looks rather nice -- provided you keep a cleaning cloth around. It's a fingerprint magnet -- a bit annoying if aesthetic appeal is high on your list while you're gadget hunting.
The screen is shaping up to be a bit of a sore point for me: it was originally announced as being available at a 4K resolution, which would've been an impressive feat. But I was told that models sporting 4K displays wouldn't be available in many markets, including North America. I can't imagine what a 4K version would cost, but it stands to reason that a price that's too much higher would make this a tough sell over the nigh endless competition.
The Switch 12 includes Thunderbolt 3 on USB-C for speedy data speeds in a single port. There's also an Intel Real Sense Camera R200 on the rear: you can use it to scan objects around you, turning them into 3D models that you can print on a 3D printer. I still haven't had a chance to try that process out for myself, but Intel's latest cameras are popping up on more hardware this year, so it's only a matter of time. The rest of the package isn't too shabby either.
I'm a big fan of the 2-in-1 category, and the Aspire Switch 12 S is hitting a lot of the right notes. But my favorite part about the line remains the easy to use hinge, and the smaller members of the Aspire Switch family offer it for about $400. At $999, the Aspire Switch 12 S suddenly enters a rather crowded market, and a likeable hinge might not be enough to stand out.