The world's lightest 15-inch laptop can't help but be fragile


Acer 15-inch Switch 5, the lightest laptop of its size in the world, isn’t an entirely new product. At an event in May, Acer told us it was coming, but all the company had to show was a nonfunctional mockup of the product — an idea of what the final hardware would look like. But picking up the finished article today, it still feels very much like a dummy model. It’s so light, at just under 2.2 pounds (990g), you’d think it was nothing but a plastic case and a sticker for a screen.

Gallery: Acer Swift 5 hands-on | 11 Photos

Because of the weight and choice of finish, the whole thing actually feels plastic, too — a bit like a cheap-and-cheerful Lenovo Ideapad. It’s not, though. Acer has used a blend of lightweight metals — magnesium, lithium and trusty aluminum — to keep the whole thing under a kilogram. Shaving weight isn’t without its drawbacks, however. The display housing is very flimsy, and you need to apply only a small amount of pressure to a corner to stress it near breaking point.

The main body of the Swift 5 is naturally a little sturdier, but there’s still noticeable give in the hands. I’m not sure how well it’ll hold up rattling around in a bookbag on a regular basis, but then again, this flexibility could be a pro rather than a con. Perhaps the softer metal means the Swift 5 will be able to absorb the odd drop without sustaining permanent damage.

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Despite the lightweight nature of the device, I find its 15.6-inch, 1080p touchscreen easy to poke and prod at without feeling like I’m going to push the thing over. And while it certainly isn’t the thinnest laptop in the world, I’d say that’s a good thing. It’s thick enough that there’s space for some proper USB ports, as well as a USB-C input. You get an SD card reader slot and an HDMI-out, too, no dongles required. The keyboard has a decent amount of travel even if the key feels a tad small, and there’s also a neat, inconspicuous fingerprint reader to the right of the trackpad.

When the new 15-inch version of the Swift 5 launches in Europe in November and the US in January, it’ll start at $1,099/€1,099. For that kind of money, you can expect the latest Core i5 processor, Intel UHD 630 graphics, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. If you want a Core i7, more RAM and storage, then, of course, that price will start to creep up.

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In that sense, you’re definitely paying a premium on account of the Swift 5 being as light as a cafeteria tray. The asking price isn’t abnormal, though. The 15-inch LG Gram currently on offer for $1,100 has overall lesser specs than the Swift 5, and at 2.41 pounds (1,095g), it’s practically a solid block of stone by comparison.

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Camera: Liviu Oprescu
Editor: Liviu Oprescu
Host: Jamie Rigg

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