Acer is kicking off its CES with a flurry of new PCs, and while the company is still primarily known for its budget offerings, its newest high-end laptops all have some good ideas to offer.
The most intriguing is the Aspire Switch 12 S, a two-in-one laptop that ignores most of Acer’s early, awkward convertible efforts. It’s a premium Skylake Core M tablet that connects to a keyboard base with magnets, and when the tablet is snapped in it looks pretty much like a regular laptop. It includes a lot of the features you’d want from a high-end laptop, too—12.5-inch 1080p and 3840×2160 IPS display options, Thunderbolt 3 (via a USB Type-C port that supports full 10Gbps USB 3.1 speeds), a rear-facing Intel RealSense 3D camera, 867Mbps 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a backlit keyboard, two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI port, a micro SD card reader, and a headphone jack. It will be available with both 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage.
When connected to its keyboard dock, the Switch 12 S weighs 3.09 pounds (1.4kg) and is 0.68 inches (17.3mm) thick—this isn’t as thin or light as Apple’s MacBook or some of the other dedicated laptops we’ve seen, but if you want the ability to detach the 1.76 pound (800g) tablet, it might be worth the tradeoff to you. Acer hasn’t given any estimated battery life figures for the convertible, though, and devices like this usually have separate batteries in both the screen and the base. We’ve asked Acer for more information and will update this article if we get a response.
The Switch launches in North America in February starting at $999.99 and will launch in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and China in the same month.
The TravelMate P648 is a more straightforward and distinctly ThinkPad-esque laptop aimed at businesses, and it’s a weird mix of brand-new and super-old technologies.
The new stuff: a Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C port, Skylake-based Intel Core CPUs, and 802.11ad (also known as WiGig) support for high-bandwidth connections to docks and other accessories. On the old side, it’s got a built-in Ethernet jack (a rarity in recent years), a trackpad with actual buttons, and a VGA port, a concession to old meeting room projectors in businesses and schools all over the world (most companies are content to sell VGA dongles for more modern ports). It’s also got three USB 3.0 ports and a full-size HDMI port, an SD card reader, a GeForce 940M discrete graphics option, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 4GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradeable to 20GB), and both spinning HDDs and SSDs. Hard drives up to 1TB in size are available as are SSDs up to 512GB, and Acer offers a RAID 0 SSD configuration option that will help make up for the fact that these drives are probably still using SATA instead of PCI Express.
Interesting as the P648 is, the layout of its backlit keyboard looks odd and somewhat squished—we’ll need to try it to see if it hampers usability. The laptop starts at $799.99 and will be available in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in April. It will come to China slightly earlier, in February.
The 15-inch version of the Aspire V Nitro. These laptops aren’t new, but RealSense camera options are.
Next up is a relatively minor addition to a pair of laptops Acer already sells, its gaming-oriented Aspire V Nitro laptops. They’re getting an Intel RealSense 3D camera, which can be used for Windows Hello authentication among other things.
These notebooks come in 15.6- and 17.3-inch varieties and offer dedicated GeForce GTX 960M GPUs with 4GB of GDDR5 RAM (standard on the 17-inch model, optional on the 15-inch). They include dual- and quad-core Skylake CPU options, DDR4 RAM, and NVMe PCI Express SSDs (the standard storage option on all models, though, is a much less appealing 1TB spinning hard drive).
The versions with RealSense cameras will be available in February starting at $1,099, suggesting a $100 premium over the versions without RealSense that you can buy from Acer right now.
To close things out, we’ve got Acer’s H7-series monitors. These are noteworthy not for their resolution (2560×1440 at 25- and 27-inches, decent but not exceptional) or their aesthetics (gold-and-white might match a phone but not many desktop computer setups), but for their USB Type-C ports. The port can carry both a display signal and a USB data connection, giving any computer connected to it access to a pair of standard USB 3.0 ports. The monitors also feature less exotic HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. The monitors support 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut.
Update: For those of you who are asking, yes, the monitor can also charge a laptop or other device connected via USB Type-C.
These monitors will be available in February starting at $499.99—you’re definitely paying a premium for that port, given that decent 4K displays can be had for $400 or a little less these days.
Listing image by Acer