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November 30, 2015

My New, Teensy Laptop

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Subnotebook laptops were popular a few years back. These tiny laptops were cheap, usually in the $200 range. They had a tiny screen and a tiny keyboard and they ran basic Windows programs and that was about it. On, and they used standard AA batteries for power.

I bought such a laptop about 5 years ago. My then-fiancé called it “Baby Laptop,” and I gave it to her so that she could have a laptop for the road. And, honestly, until just recently I forgot about Baby Laptop.

When my current laptop bit the dust, I went out in search of a replacement. I purchased a Microsoft Surface 3 a few months back, but I loaned it to my son and didn’t want to take it back (not without a good reason). So I went to Costco and spied an Acer 2-in-1 laptop, the Aspire Switch 10, shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Frodo, my new 2-in-1 Windows 10 laptop.

Figure 1. Frodo, my new 2-in-1 Windows 10 laptop.

The Acer Aspire Switch 10, which I’ve named Frodo, has a full touchscreen with 10 points of input. Like all 2-in-1 laptops, you can detach the keyboard and use the device as a tablet. It didn’t come with a digital stylus, however, and I don’t know if you could use one on the laptop.

But check out that keyboard!

Figure 2. Frodo's detachable keyboard is chock full of keys.

Figure 2. Frodo’s detachable keyboard is chock full of keys.

Frodo’s keyboard is more complete than my old Lenovo laptop’s. It has the embedded numeric keypad and NumLock. It features an Fn (function) key for quick access to extra features, such as Wi-Fi, volume control, and an external projector. It even has the AltGr key, which is used to generate special foreign language characters. I’m impressed.

The touchpad works just fine, but as a touchscreen device, you can also tap the screen and use it for input. Even so, I’ve attached a wireless mouse to the laptop for old fashioned point-and-click action.

The battery life is great at about 8 hours. I haven’t yet fully tested that lifespan. I’ve been meaning to take Frodo out to a café and do some remote work, but the opportunity to do so hasn’t yet arisen.

I’ve written before about the “wave of the future.” Occasionally I ruminate that the desktop is dead, then the laptop is dead, then the tablet is dead. But at a $299 price point, with the Acer Aspire and similar 2-in-1 devices, you get the best of a laptop and a tablet. My guess going forward is that this form factor is what people want. It might just end up being a success, although I do think it’s more of a laptop than a tablet.

And how many times do you see one of the iPad minions with a bluetooth keyboard attached to their tablets? That’s just their admission that they should have purchased a laptop instead. With the Windows 10 2-in-1 design, you get both minus any compromises. And the price can’t be beat.

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