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Acer Swift 3 review: a capable all-rounder

The Swift 3 isn’t going to knock your socks off, but it’s still a solid mid-range performer

IT Pro Value
  • Attractive chassis; Well-designed keyboard and trackpad; Good value
  • Cons: Performance and battery life are middling; Less than fabulous display

Historically, Acer has had a reputation for producing 'cheap and cheerful' Windows notebooks, angled more towards the average consumer rather than the discerning techie or business user. This, however, is no longer entirely fair or true.

While Acer's devices still fit into the mid-range rather than premium bracket, they're no longer plasticky and disposable. In fact, the company's recent output has been of impressive quality, with devices like the Swift 3 providing an attractive alternative for those who don't want to shell out for a more expensive machine.

Design and appearance

The Swift 3 has an all-metal aluminium chassis, which feels pleasingly premium to the touch. Build quality is excellent too, with little evidence of the flex seen in other products at this price point.

It's fitted with a 180-degree hinge, which means that the screen can be pushed back to lie flush with the desk. It's a small touch, but one that ensures you can get a comfortable viewing angle, regardless of how high you are in relation to the laptop.

It's attractively svelte, too - at 18mm, it's only a hair thicker than the MacBook Air, and barely 150g heavier. It's absolutely no bother to carry around all day in between meetings, and it slips into a bag without weighing you down.

The Swift 3 is available in gold or silver. The former colour ,in particular, is far less garish than some others we've seen in the past. We initially thought it would be too brash for us, but it ended up growing on us considerably.

All in all, it's a far cry from the tacky, cheaply-made fare that Acer used to be associated with. It may not have quite the level of polish boasted by more expensive rivals, but you certainly won't be ashamed of it either.

Keyboard and trackpad

The trackpad is a good size and has decent sensitivity. We could easily move the cursor from edge to edge without having to reposition our hand, which is always a good sign. The trackpad buttons are nice as well, with strong haptic feedback providing a good, firm click.

The keyboard is also excellent - the chiclet keys have a decent amount of travel depth, with none of the rattling and bounceback that you get from cheaper keyboards. A backlit keyboard is also available as an optional extra, which is an all but essential feature for any notebook.

One feature that we were particularly taken with was the placement of the navigation keys (page up, page down, home, etcetera). Rather than excluding them entirely, as most manufacturers do, Acer have opted to place them on the right hand side of the keyboard.

Insert and delete are just above the backspace bar, while the rest are arrayed vertically along the edge. These also double as media control keys. It's a nice touch that means it can maintain a nice compact footprint without sacrificing any functionality.

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