We have already published an early comparison article that compares the Surface Pro 4 and the Acer Switch Alpha 12. For the next few articles, we will go more in-depth and point out the differences.
As a starter, we will look into the design & feel of each devices.
Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Exterior Casing
It’s pretty obvious that Acer’s goal was to create a clone of Surface Pro 4 at a lower price point. In a 2-in-1 device format such as these, there really aren’t a whole lot of options to be different.
To illustrate the point:
Although on paper the Surface Pro 4 is smaller, you really can’t feel it in person. Can you?
Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Keyboard
Predictably, the size of each keyboard is about the same as well. The size of each buttons are about the same and they feel very similar. The Switch Alpha 12’s keys are slightly clickier but both are easy to touch-type at a full speed.
As for the touch pad, the Surface Pro 4’s pad is slightly wider. But more importantly, it is located more towards the center. I like this arrangement better as a right handed person. Once again, the Switch Alpha 12 pad’s click is slightly stiffer and in terms of sensitivity, they are about the same. I have no problem using both for productivity work.
The Switch Alpha 12’s keyboard is a bit thicker though, as seen above (the right side) which will contribute to the overall thickness of the device when folded and carried around.
When the keyboard is attached at an angle to the body, the Switch Alpha 12 (top picture) hangs a bit higher off the ground. If you like to tilt the keyboard, you may prefer the Acer’s implementation slightly over the Microsoft’s. Both keyboards flexes slightly when you type at a full speed. But perhaps due to its additional thickness, the Switch Alpha 12’s keyboard flexes less.
Someone from Acer must have had a “Oops” moment. This pen holder is definitely an afterthought invention. The Surface Pro 4’s magnet based solution is far more elegant.
I was curious how close the bottom of the screen was when the keyboard is attached to the body, at a raised position. This is because I have some problem touching the bottom area of the screen when the keyboard is attached this way. And if you look at the above two pictures, it appears that the Acer has slightly bigger gap and this is actually the case. I do feel slightly more comfortable touching the bottom area of the screen. If you like switching between apps using your finger, you may like the Acer more.
Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Kickstand
There’s a definite difference between these two models. Perhaps visually this is where they differentiate the most.
Here’s how each device look when the kickstand is positioned at the lowest possible position. If you had to measure it, the Acer’s implementation allows for slightly lower position (less than 1/4 of an inch). Both feel solid without any give when set at this position.
Once again, both offer a solid support when the kickstand is positioned at a more reasonable angle for a typical work. Since the Acer does not use a piece of flat board as a kickstand, you may find some situation where it may not offer as solid support if the ground is not level or is soft.
When the kickstand is completely folded in, the Surface Pro 4 offers a complete flushed look. As you can see above, the Acer’s implementation results in a small bump at the bottom. I could definitely see this as a high wear and tear area of the device because of this. I much prefer the Surface Pro 4’s implementation.
Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Power Supply
Since these devices are meant for ultra portability, their included power supplies must be light and slim to carry around, right? Well, sort of…
The Surface Pro 4’s power supply looks huge compared to the Switch Alpha 12’s when you look at them from this angle. But what about the rest?
The left is the Switch Alpha 12 and the right is the Surface Pro 4. As you can see, the Microsoft’s version is far more elegant and simple. Acer’s cable is thick and less flexible. Have a look at them from this angle:
The Surface Pro 4’s power supply is bigger but also the height is lower. With much thicker wires on the Acer’s, I would say Microsoft’s power supply is easier one of the two to carry around. Although not obvious from these pictures, the Microsoft’s cable is actually flat.
But as a bonus, the Acer’s cable is longer (by a good margin) if you need that extra reach. A point to Acer.
Also it is worth mentioning that the Switch Alpha 12’s power connector at the body is rudimentary at best as seen here:
When someone trips over the wire, I’m pretty sure your Switch Alpha 12 will fly across the room as well (ok, a bit of a exaggeration). Microsoft’s solution is far more elegant and functional.
Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Weight
When each units are measured with their keyboard attached, the Surface Pro 4 is lighter. The Switch Alpha 12 weighs 2lb 13.3oz while the Surface Pro 4 weighs 2 lb 6.8oz. But that’s not the end of the story….
When the power supplies are included into the picture, the gap widens. Now, the Switch Alpha 12 weighs 3lb 7.5oz while the Surface Pro 4 weighs only 2lb 13.9oz.
Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 – Design & Feel Conclusion
You can probably tell where Acer cut their corners to save cost by looking at these pictures. If none of these points concern you, this may be the model for you. Otherwise, you will have to carefully weigh the cost vs value proposition on each models.
More comparison articles on the Surface Pro 4 vs Acer Switch Alpha 12 focusing on other areas will follow shortly. Stay Tuned!
Kent Beck link to his wiki