Acer's Swift 1 shows not all low-cost laptops need to be thick, clunky or bad on battery life.
Priced at $329, the 13.3-inch laptop is thin at 0.7 inches (14.95 mm), and weighs a trim 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg) with a body that's finished in metal for a more premium appearance. It has a few other nice touches like a full-HD IPS display, a fingerprint reader and a fair amount of ports and more than 9 hours of battery life.
Don't let the system's looks fool you, however: There isn't much going on inside this thing. Despite the "quad-core" processor it just doesn't have a lot of power for anything more than basics. But if that's all you need, the total package is more than fair for the price.
Acer Swift 1 (SF113-31-P5CK)
|Price as reviewed||$329|
|Display size/resolution||13.3-inch 1,920x1,080 display|
|CPU||1.1GHz Intel Pentium N4200|
|Memory||4GB DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||128MB Intel HD Graphics 505|
|Storage||64GB flash storage|
|Networking||802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Window 10 Home (64-bit)|
Acer makes a, which also looks more expensive than it is, but is configured with more capable components. Oddly, though, a couple of the design choices Acer made with the Swift 3, namely its chamfered edges and anti-glare display, are a turn-off compared with the Swift 1's nicer rounded edges and matte display.
The 1,920x1,080-resolution display is also an IPS panel with better off-angle viewing than you'd get with a cheaper TN panel you typically find on budget systems. The matte finish cuts reflections, too, which is good because the display just doesn't get bright enough to fight bright lighting.
If you're considering a laptop to use part-time with external peripherals, the Swift 1 should handle most of your needs. There's an HDMI output for a display, a combo jack for speakers or headphones, one USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, and one USB-C 3.1 (gen 1) port. There's also an SD card slot, but no Ethernet jack so you'll need an adapter if you don't want to rely on the 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
One thing that is particularly below average on the Swift 1 is the keyboard. It's spacious enough and there's no oddly sized or poorly placed keys given the laptop's size. There isn't much travel to the keys, though, so if you tend to strike your keys with force, you might find it uncomfortable after awhile. Putting a decent keyboard in something this thin would no doubt add to the cost, but if typing comfort is a priority, you might want to see about trying this one out before you buy.