The Swift 1 is the lower end entry in Acer’s Swift lineup. Sitting around the entry level, this is focused on students and perhaps the small home business or a junior computer user. A balancing act of getting price, performance and build quality just right. And it seems to really work.
Looking around the device, to the left we have a lonely USB 2.0 port.
On the right the power connector, that actually makes an old school PC speaker beep when the plug is inserted or removed. A full sized HDMI plug, a USB 3.0 port and a headphones/microphone port.
In addition is an SD Card socket. An SD card does not sit flush with the edge, however, it does make a better effort to conceal the card then a number of other models on the market. Not great, but could be worse. I clocked maximum transfer speed of 34.5 MB/s when copying a large file from a Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II.
To top of the laptop is plastic with a brush steel look. The plastic feels reasonably strong and would survive a few knocks. However, in the hands or a careless student, I would imagine this lasting a particularly long time.
The keyboard is a surprise however it takes some getting used to. The chiclet keys do not feature a backlight, however, have a decent amount of space between them to keep things comfortable and the larger form of the laptop afford some full sides and well-spaced cursor keys. The confusing addition is the row to the extreme right, these feel a little out of place. I am forever hitting the Home button instead of the backspace as type this and throwing in a quick gap between paragraphs send me rocketing up a page or down a page depending on the severity of my inaccuracy. As with all keyboard, it will take some getting used too and I dare say some will already tune into this configuration and it’s not out of left field.
The power button is a simple clicky button, you know where you stand with it. If you press it you feel the click and the computer turns on, the light to the left is a power indicator light. The base unit’s upper side is made of aluminium making for a cool and smooth experience underhand if a little fingerprinty.
Below the keyboard is a multi-touch clickPad with a measuring approximately 10.6 x 6.1 cm. A large and unbroken area of gestures and multi-finger combinations for scrolling. There is a short drop marked by a silver chrome edging and defined pressure point.
Above the screen is an HD webcam, the documentation on this does not state the quality, however, I will go out on a limb and guess it is 720p. A skype call was smooth and looked well coming through on the other side.
A 14-inch matte screen running at a resolution of 1366×768 pixels turns out to be the Swift 1’s major folly. This is a TN panel with colours looking fairly bland and drab, with limited viewing angles and a lot of glare when sunny. There also a hint of flickering that may lead to might discomfort when used for a longer period of time, especially when on battery power.
The hinge mechanism is strong and solid with two small but sturdy hinges keep the screen held rigidly.
The stereo speakers are located on the device’s underside. These perform day to day sounds and notifications quite well however they are not cut out for media.
Inside the Swift 1 has a Braswell CPU quad-core processor. Clocked at a base speed of 1.6 GHz the Swift features a turbo which can be boost speed to 2.56 GHz. Whilst the Braswell technology was likely used to keep the price down there are fast mobile technologies out there and it’s a shame Braswell is used here. However, the processor is more than capable of running most office and internet applications.
Older games will work better than newer, the Swift 1 had enough power to at least entertain a game or two. The CPU and GPU combination were able to run Half-Life 2 at its default graphics settings smoothly. The system did heat up during play and there was no fan to jump into action and help sort it out.
Things run fairly smoothly on the Swift 1, in fact, PCMark 8 presented pretty decent results for the system. Intel’s HD Graphics 405 GPU is installed. This supports DirectX 12 and clocks at speeds of up to 700 MHz. The 4gb RAM certainly helps, however, according to Acer these dims are soldered on with no opportunity of an upgrade.
For some, storage may be an issue. An eMMC module with a total capacity of 128 GB is installed. After Windows 10, Acer’s additional software and the small amount of pre-installed apps this reduces to 96 GB of usable space. Fine for some, and the SD card slot could be used to expand the issue with the protrusion mentioned above might become a problem.
Boasted on the box and a feature sticker is the “Ultrafast Wireless.” Installed is a Wi-Fi module QCA9377 from Qualcomm. It supports the 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi standards as well as the faster ac standard.
Acer states the battery life as 13 hours and I will concur with this. Perhaps thanks to a low-grade screen and the lack of any fans, the Swift 1 could handle two days or moderate use without feeling the need for a charge.
The Acer Swift 1 might have its shortcomings, however, they are quite easy to overlook thanks to the price, generous keyboard and the battery life. This will keep going all day yet will dazzle no one. You can work and play with this if feels quality where it needs to feel the quality and has a little power hidden in there when it needs if, even if it heats the room when you call on it. Had the screen been an IPS variant and Acer not soldered parts in I would have no problems recommending the Swift 1.