• Acer
Acer appears to have not given up on the high-end smartphone business after its lukewarm reception to its first Android smartphone, the Liquid A1, as they have pushed their second venture with the Acer Stream. What can you expect from this smartphone? Read on to find out.

The phone has a masculine boxy design with a choice of metal grey with black. The 3.7-inch screen delivers with its capacitive technology and WVGA resolution. It also uses AMOLED but truth be told, it’s getting old pretty fast. It does tax your eye power when you try to read small text. Try it, we kid you not. On the other hand, viewing high resolution images is extremely enjoyable with the 16 million AMOLED-powered colours; it will ultimately be your personal choice. AMOLED as it may be, it lacks the great outdoors quality and also seems to attract quite a bit of fingerprint smudges.

The Home button also serves as a notification light with the Search, Back and Menu buttons below the screen. While the Home is a physical key, the other three are touch sensitive, capacitive keys which are pretty interesting design choices. Below those four keys, you get three physical buttons for your music controlling; play/pause, next and previous. Granted it does look a bit cluttered, you usually don’t notice the music control buttons.

The left side hosts the volume up/down control and power/lock key. The top has the 3.5mm audio jack and the right contains the microUSB and HDMI ports which are hidden under a single plastic flap, as well as the two-stop camera button.

The Acer Stream discloses a soft-touch-coated back and a 5MP camera without flash but with 720p HD video recording. Under the cover, you’ll find the 1400mAh Li-Ion battery, which needs to be taken out first to install SIM or microSD cards.

There are three home screen pages available. The main one only displays a clock, the date and the pre-set alarm time. To the left of this screen is the task history, which helps in utilizing the platform’s multitasking capabilities. To the right is the multimedia screen, which lets you scroll through previews of your photos, songs and videos. The status bar is located at the lower portion of the screen together with twelve shortcuts to your most used applications. Scrolling up shows the rest of the apps, which are arranged into pages. Tapping on the status bar will bring up some options to manage such as quick alarm setup, notifications and convenient on/off switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and Airplane mode.

The contact integration in the phonebook is only for your SIM and Google account contacts which clears up clutter. The Messaging app provides a threaded view for your conversations and it’s made even more appealing with the standard on-screen QWERTY keyboard for Android, which is easy to use on the 3.7-inch screen, especially on landscape mode. Setting an appointment on the calendar is a breeze with the step-by-step nature of the task. You simply select a date from month view and then you’re moved to day view, where you select the preferred hour and finally you can type your appointment title and you’re all set!

The browser loads pages quickly with pinch-to-zoom and double-tap settings. Scrolling is usually smooth, but you might experience some lags while in zoomed out view. The Dolphin Browser HD also gave similar results. The Acer Stream may not be the best in web browsing, but it’s pretty decent.

The Acer Stream comes with a 5MP camera with autofocus and no flash. The camera interface presents you with a quite a few options which include photo resolution, white balance, brightness and contrast, timer, macro mode, anti-shake, ISO, auto exposure modes and effects. Well, the videos suffer from the exact same issues that the photos do; quite muddy, lack of details and choppy. We didn’t expect the video to be this bad when it runs at 24fps.

The music player is quite simple doesn’t impress at all and while the NemoPlayer is a bit more aesthetically pleasing it doesn’t do anything much. The Acer Stream comes with support for Dolby Mobile which contains some equalizers and fine tuning options. The loudspeaker is also nothing spectacular as it appears to sound tinny while lacking punch.
The Acer Stream is a very suitable smartphone for videos. It plays MPEG-4 and Xvid coded videos in resolutions of up to 1280×720 pixels, but while it also plays H.264 videos, it does so without the sound. We tried some software with the same results. DivX is also non-playable right out of the box. The AMOLED screen may not be suitable for reading smaller text, but it works its magic when it comes to video playback. While the speaker isn’t really doing much for your movie nights, you can never have it all.

The 1GHz Snapdragon 8250 CPU performs well giving a smooth system performance. There may be some occasional lag in the browser, but there seems to be no sign of it when gaming on the Stream. The handset also contains sufficient RAM and ROM to power the software which are 512mb each.

How does Acer’s smartphone fare during calls? Voices are quite tinny although it’s loud enough to be understood while the opposite side reported clearer tones. Not the best performance but still good enough as compared to previously reviewed devices.

The 1400mAh Li-Ion battery can hold up for about 7 hours of talk time and 500 hours of standby on a 3G network, according to the manufacturer. However, take these specs with a pinch of salt, reality is sometimes harsh.

Pros and Cons
It is easy to use with an unconventional interface and comes fully loaded with accessories.

However, the unexceptional camera quality, lack of flash and stiff interface scrolling could be better improved.

The Acer Stream did manage to surprise us, mostly in a good way.

While we wouldn’t go so far as to say the Acer Stream is the best, it is incredibly delightful and has a comfortable, yet gorgeous color scheme. Its features also complement its design, with the 3.7-inch AMOLED screen, 1GHz Snapdragon and 512MB RAM, which are a definite must-have in the upper Android smartphones range nowadays.

Acer has forged ahead by creating an intuitive and fun to use interface with is appealing as well. While it’s not all rosy, the Acer Stream’s drawbacks weren’t enough to spoil our overall experience with the phone, which just proves that Acer has created a gem. With the right marketing, a good device may be a great device.

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