Reviews: PC

Acer ups its game with the Swift 3 laptop

The Acer Swift 3 display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and is glossy and reflective. Viewing angles, are good, thanks to the use of an in-plane switching panel.
The Acer Swift 3 display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and is glossy and reflective. Viewing angles, are good, thanks to the use of an in-plane switching panel.PHOTO: ACER

I am probably not the only person to associate Acer with affordable computers.

The company has long offered products that are high on value, but often with a utilitarian build. Even its former top ultrabook, the Aspire S7, had a plastic base that did not quite match its classy Gorilla Glass-clad lid.

But Acer has upped its game with its Swift laptops. The Swift is available in three variants - the Swift 3 is the most affordable, while the ultra-thin Swift 7 is the top dog.

Given that the Swift 3 is a 14-inch model, you may think that it would be chunky and heavy. But while its 18mm thickness and 1.6kg weight stretch the ultrabook definition, it is still relatively handy.

It is also plain-looking. The lid has a simple Acer logo and, like the palm rest, has a brushed metallic finish. The edges of the laptop, however, could be more rounded and less sharp.

More importantly, it is solidly built. The lid is rigid and resisted my attempts to twist the screen.

The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. It is glossy and reflective, though I felt that it is too dim, especially in a well-lit room. In fact, I kept the screen brightness at its maximum setting during testing. Colours, too, are slightly dull.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $1,998

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7500U (2.7GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 620

    RAM: 8GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card slot, audio jack

    BATTERY: 48 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Viewing angles, however, are good, thanks to the use of an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. The bezel is slim, but far thicker than some of the latest laptops.

The backlit keyboard has decent key travel. The function and directional keys could have been larger.

The touchpad, however, rivals the ones on Apple laptops in size, so it is easy to execute multi-touch gestures like two-finger scrolling.

Its fingerprint sensor works with the Windows Hello feature to log into the computer.

This sensor requires you to swipe your finger on it instead of tapping it like the ones found in smartphones and some newer laptops. But it works well enough.

Unfortunately, Acer has yet to clean up its act when it comes to bloatware.

The Swift 3 comes preloaded with both third-party and Acer-branded apps, as well as sponsored links that add clutter to your computer. It is less conspicuous than before as these app shortcuts are not on the Windows desktop. But they are present in the Start Menu, though removing them is simple enough.

It produced an overall score of 3,438 in the PCMark 10 benchmark. This is similar to the 3,417 achieved by the LG Gram 14, which is not surprising as both laptops sport identical Intel Core i7 chips with 8GB of system memory.

The Swift 3 stood out with its uptime of 8hr 40min in our video- loop battery life test. I believe the fact that its screen is not as bright as others may have contributed to this. Nevertheless, it is still a very impressive showing.

Because of its two solid-state drives (SSD), my review ultrabook costs almost $2,000. However, the Swift 3 starts at just $1,198 for a Core i5 version with a 256GB SSD, which is a bargain for a solid and decent-performing ultrabook.

•Verdict: The Swift 3 hits all the right spots - pricing, build quality and battery life.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Acer ups its game with the Swift 3'. Print Edition | Subscribe