A better selection of ports and a lower price tag make Acer's Switch Alpha 12 a solid alternative to Microsoft's Surface Pro 4. The $800 2-in-1 device includes a 12-inch tablet and a snap-on keyboard that comes in the box. But although it delivers strong enough performance for serious productivity, its lackluster battery life might be a downside for workers.
Like the Surface Pro 4, the Switch Alpha 12 sports a kickstand built into the back of the tablet that lets you prop up the system while you type. The kickstand is also useful for getting a nice angled writing surface when you pair the Switch Alpha 12 with Acer's optional $50 active stylus.
The stylus is a solid tool for digital note taking, and it can detect up to 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. That means you can feather your lines and vary your stroke width, which makes writing on the Alpha Switch 12 feel about as natural as writing with a pen on paper. Microsoft's excellent OneNote software comes preloaded on the system, so you can start taking notes right away.
Other hardware highlights include a 12-inch, 2160 x 1440-pixel display, which is sharp and roomy enough for split-screen multitasking; and an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM. That configuration provided above-average performance in our benchmark tests. I was also pleased to see that the system comes with a USB Type-C port — in addition to a standard USB 3.0 port — which will be useful for quickly transferring data and connecting to newer accessories.
But the Alpha Switch 12 is held back by extremely short battery life. It ran for a measly 4 hours and 29 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. The Surface Pro 4 lasted more than an hour and a half longer on the same battery test.
Check back for a full review of the Acer Switch Alpha 12 very soon, or check out our picks for the best business laptops currently on the market.