|When Acer decided to try its hand at smartphone manufacturing, its fans were thrilled. Unfortunately, two of its offerings, the beTouch E130 and Stream failed to impress. Its latest offering, the Acer Liquid Metal is a reflection of Acer’s perseverance and shows just how hard it is willing to work to establish itself in the industry. And it intends to achieve this goal by employing the strategy it knows best – manufacturing feature-packed yet affordable products. Thus, buyers can expect the Liquid Metal to be bang for the buck. But is it really?
Acer has chosen to employ its Breeze user interface over the Android 2.2 in the Liquid Metal. Users will either love it or hate it. If you happen to be in the latter category, you can always turn it off and activate the stock Android interface instead. Users get five homescreens which can they populate with various widgets, although placing application shortcuts on the screens is impossible. It will take a little getting used to but it is not difficult to get the hang of it. Although a little confusing initially and not as customisable as some of the other UIs like HTC Sense UI, the Breeze UI’s strength lies in its ability to confer quick access to the phone’s various features.
The Liquid Metal covers the basics pretty well – in-call quality is good, and the loudspeaker is quite capable as well. When it comes to texting, the Liquid Metal gets the job done, but it is far from being a standout messaging phone. Its on-screen keyboard isn’t the most comfortable to use, but users will find it a lot less of a hassle to text in widescreen mode.
As with most smartphones, the Contacts App comes with social network integration. Nothing groundbreaking there. The Social Jogger app which allows users to switch between Facebook and Twitter, is a nice touch though.
The handset’s camera comes with a variety of settings like anti-shake mode and face-tracking mode, but when it assessing a camera, it all boils down the image quality. Unfortunately, the Liquid metal’s 5 mega-pixel autofocus camera fails to deliver. Images are noisy, colour looks very unnatural and the level of detail is disappointing. The camera’s LED flash doesn’t help matters either – it is far too weak. The camera is capable of video recording as well, in high definition (720p) no less. At 30 frames per second, videos run quite smoothly but sadly there are no positives about video quality.
To access saved pictures, music and videos, Nemo Player is the place to look. It has all media under one roof. Alternatively, users can access the Android media gallery. All formats of 720p HD videos can be played on the Liquid Metal, excluding, for some reason, DivX files. The simple solution to this would be to download a player that does support DivX files from the Android Market. However, these videos don’t exactly play without a hitch; they sometimes glitch.
The supplied headset comes with Dolby Mobile surround sound, therefore using it to listen to music promises to be an enjoyable audio experience. The Liquid Metal’s shake control is more of an afterthought than a feature thrown in to impress, mainly due to its low sensitivity. Users can switch songs and silence alarms by shaking the handset, but will find that they need to give it a few good hard shakes to get it to respond.
As with all Android 2.2 handsets, the Liquid Metal’s browser comes with flash support. And herein lies one of the Liquid Metal’s quirks – There is no pre-installed Adobe Flash Player. Users have to get it from the Android Market themselves. However, it delivers in terms of video streaming so there is no question about its performance. The browser itself is pretty good. Web browsing is a breeze as page load time is short and zooming is easy.
The Liquid Metal delivers in terms of connectivity, although there isn’t anything in particular to write home about. Standard features like Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) and A-GPS are present. Because it runs Android 2.2, the Liquid Metal can act as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that supports connections from other devices. The phone also comes with DLNA support, which means media can be streamed via Wi-Fi to DLNA compatible devices like the Playstation 3 and Xbox360. GPS satellite lock time is approximately 4 minutes initially, which is pretty standard.
The Liquid Metal is powered by a standard 1500mAh battery which provides up to 450 hours of 2G) and 550 hours (3G) of standby time; and up to 11 hours (2G) and 8 hours (3G) of talk time.
Pros and Cons