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Review of Acer Liquid Metal GSM/UMTS communicator
Live photos of Acer Liquid Metal
In terms of characteristics Acer Liquid Metal slightly resembles the previous model Liquid E, while its software is similar to that of Acer Stream. In this review I will frequently refer to both models. The rest you can learn from this article.
Design and materials
At the moment the only available color is black plastic and metal of the battery cover. The combination looks with taste and dignity.
The body of the smartphone is less bulky than its predecessors, while the front and back panels seem arched a bit, which makes the model exotic. Materials used are represented by glossy plastic and metal in the battery cover. One can joke about the amount of metal used in Acer Liquid Metal. We have no more metal here than the slate in the pencil, but the name was chosen by the manufacturer.
Such qualities as resistance to dirt and scratching offer a mixed reading. On the one hand we get a metal cover, which is not easily soiled or scratched. On the other hand the front and screen surface are finished in plastic, which becomes soiled and scratched within a fortnight. I can only advise to be extremely careful in use.
There are no complaints as to the build as all components fit well with minimal gaps. The battery cover is properly fixed and there is no looseness here.
Regarding dimensions Acer Liquid Metal is comparable with previous models in the series and HTC Desire.
The model is convenient to hold, though glossy plastic and metal make it not very comfortable after a prolonged time. You can carry the smartphone in pockets or bags.
The front side hosts the grilled speaker at the top and it is slightly sunk. To the right we see a light and proximity sensors.
The model has no light indicators and instead we have the icons panel at the top similar to that of Acer Liquid and Liquid E. During the charging or connection with PC the charge icon is active, while the unread e-mails, missed calls and new messages are also indicated accordingly. There are three icons. The idea is excellent and you can check new messages or view missed calls without taking the phone completely out of the pocket.
The only issue with icons is the following. If in previous models the icons were displayed against the dark panel, now the light panel is used, so in broad daylight it is not easy to recognize them. In the dark these problems do not exist.
The top of the smartphone hosts the button of screen and device activation together with a 3.5 mm headset and headphones jack. The left side is vacant, but the right one is dedicated to volume and camera buttons. The button of volume control is not the most convenient, because it is not long and does not protrude enough, so blind pressings are not convenient.
The bottom has the USB slot for the charger or cable coupled with the microphone.
Controls under the screen are sensor. To be more precise we have a sensor block with 4 keys: back to main menu (when pressed and held the widgets menu is activated), "Search", "Back" and menu activation.
There are no "Answer" and "End" buttons in the model. Sensor keys under the screen are convenient overall, feature bright backlight and their response level can be customized from the menu.
Similarly to Liquid and Liquid E Acer Liquid Metal has action button and the company doesn't try to compensate its absence during the text input. So, if you make a mistake and need to move the cursor back you have to do it with accurate clicks between the letters, which is hardly convenient.
Now let's go to the back side of the model. The back cover at the top protects the battery (and you have a plastic part as well) and it has to be dragged up to open the compartment. SIM card and memory cards are located below the battery. The memory card slot is not convenient and you cannot change the card without taking the battery out. Acer Liquid Metal uses microSD cards (with microSDHC support).
The model boasts a 3.6″ capacitive TFT touchscreen with the resolution of 480x800. It offers impressive brightness and maximum viewing angles. The main feature of the screen as in previous models is in the mirror background, which keeps it readable even on a bright sunny day outdoors.
The model sports a 5 MP camera with autofocus and flash. The camera hole can be found at the top of the back side and it slightly protrudes above the body.
The interface is very basic: in the viewfinder mode on the screen you see key icons on the left: focus modes, flash modes, buttons of scaling and type of shooting selection. The rest of parameters can be set in a menu: resolution, white balance and ISO. To activate settings press "Menu" under the screen.
The following levels of resolution are available:
Apart from the abovementioned settings you can also change the contrast and brightness on a 10 grades scale. ISO level can be selected too. In camera settings you cannot disable the shutter sound, but if it irritates you the general sound level can easily be turned to zero and that will do the trick.
I cannot describe the pictures quality, because my sample had serious issues with the camera. As soon as I get a final version of Acer Liquid Metal I will update the review.
It can be recorded in 3GP format (3gp4 codec) at the speed of ~35 fps and the bitrate of ~ 7 000 kbps. The sound is recorded with the help of samr codec, sampling frequency – 8000 Hz. We will review the quality of video later on as I had problems in this department as well.
The following resolution can be chosen for video:
In the video recording mode one can change white balance only. Any resolution allows the use of scaling. You cannot us it during the shooting itself and will have to stop the recording first.
The model boasts a 1500 Li-Ion battery, which gives you around one day and a half of operation in standard conditions (30-40 minutes of talktime, push-mail, WiFi use of around 1 hour, sending and receiving 10-20 text messages). Music playback will cut this amount of time to one day. Anyway, the result is decent if compared with the latest HTC models.
The phone uses Qualcomm MSM7230 platform with 800 MHz processor from Snapdragon 2nd generation lineup. The first generation was represented by QSD8x50, which can be found in all "robots" of 1 GHz and the latest Windows Mobile solution HTC HD2.
You can read in detail about the 2nd generation of Qualcomm processors here. Apart from Acer Liquid Metal the platform is used in HTC Desire Z, Sony Ericsson X12 and several other models. I mention it to avoid doubts regarding the generation of the platform used in the smartphone. Be assured – it is one of the latest offerings from Qualcomm.
The handset comes equipped with 512 MB of RAM and the same amount is available to store data and install software. In Android 2.2 you can easily install apps on the memory card, so the inbuilt memory is not so crucial here as it was in Android 2.1 and its precursors.
The model easily shows video, which matches the screen resolution (that is 720x400), but you have to install the player first (for example, RockPlayer). The speed of the smartphone is good and I did not notice any considerable delays in operation.
The smartphone works in GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and UMTS (850/1900/2100). Both EDGE and HSDPA are supported. Wireless interfaces can be activated in the settings menu or via the standard widget to be dragged onto the desktop.
PC synchronization and data transfer are carried out via microUSB (USB 2.0.) Inbuilt Bluetooth 2.1. supports the following profiles:
All main profiles are supported and the use of stereo headset is similar to that of previous models. There is no change here.
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n). WiFi worked well in the engineering prototype apart from several connection interruptions. The reloading of the smartphone helped.
Acer Liquid Metal has gpsOne chip on Qualcomm platform. The phone will go on sale without the specialized navigation software, but you will have a chance to install it yourself. Traditionally, Liquid E as any other "robot" has a preinstalled Google Maps app.
The smartphone uses Android 2.2 (Froyo), but we could not find any software difference from Acer Stream. At least we saw the same interface, apps and key features. This proprietary Acer Shell has been already described in the Acer Stream review here.
The dialer issue has not been solved. I would like to remind that you cannot hide the keypad after you have completed the number search. As numbers lines are large and you can see only three of them after you enter the digits it is convenient to hide the keypad and browse the found contacts. Unfortunately, it cannot be done.
The address book is convenient, has a fast scrolling slider, search button and contacts mini pictures.
Acer Liquid Metal has several additional apps – a troubled nemoPlayer, some utilities and a truly useful Twidroid.
While testing Acer Liquid Metal I haven't noticed any problems with the reception. The ringtones are average in volume and the speaker is loud enough. The vibro is always felt and I have no complaints here.
The model will hit the shelves in mid January. We could have analyzed its positioning better, but its release time is too far from today, which considerably affects the impressions. I think it could be an interesting solution if priced at around $550, which should be a good offering in January. The smartphone has a good design, is built on the latest platform and Android version. All these elements are attractive, but they must be complemented with the right price as well. I think that it is time for Acer to expand its lineup of "robots" not to be represented by Acer Liquid only.
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Published 20 November 2010
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