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Acer Stream GSM/UMTS Smartphone Preliminary Review

Live photos of Acer Stream

Contents:

  1. Positioning
  2. Design
  3. Body materials
  4. Dimensions
  5. Controls
  6. Screen
  7. Camera
  8. Battery
  9. Performance
  10. Interfaces
  11. Navigation
  12. Sound
  13. Text input
  14. Software
  15. Rival products
  16. Conclusion

This is only a preliminary review as the Acer Stream weve received for testing is an early engineering prototype where some things are running slowly while others work incorrectly or even absolutely wrong. However, this version already leaves a holistic impression of the device, therefore, in this review I will try to give an overview of all the distinctive features of this model and speak a little bit about its market prospects.

Positioning

To begin with, lets see how it happened that Acer became interested in the Android platform and why the Streams release was delayed while the competitors (HTC Desire and Google Nexus One) are already commercially available. In olden times (about 4 years ago), Acer was making Windows Mobile-based PDAs; however, they entered the market when the very idea of PDAs was already being gradually replaced by Windows Mobile-based communicators and smartphones. So, after having released several models, the company refused to further develop their PDA product range. Acer then took a break; after a while, they got interested in E-Ten from Taiwan (known in Russia for Glowfish communicators with relatively low price tag and good functionality).

One of the first VGA communicators

Things were changing quickly: back in 2008, Acer bought E-Ten. After that, they tried to get rooted in the European WM market; particularly, there were plans to expand the sales of models for operators (thats what E-Ten used to have problems with and what prevented the company from occupying a more or less significant segment of the European WM market). In 2009, at the annual Mobile World Congress, Acer presented ca. 9 new communicators on the Windows Mobile platform. A spurt like that was expected to bring success to Acer; however, the release actually became a failure, as more than half of the announced models ended up being unviable.

Saying that Acer DX650 looked plain would be a very mild statement

Then came Android. Acer, among other large phone makers, announced their Android smartphone, Acer Liquid. The smartphone was interesting for being the first Android device on the new Snapdragon platform (with lowered CPU frequency, though) and also for the classic design.

The company benefitted from changing the platform in many aspects (especially from the brand perception point of view). The thing is that Acer was not a really big player on the WM market; when Acer came in, the market was dominated by HTC and Samsung (E-Ten was only strong in Russia; however, even in Russia they had a competitor in the low end communicators segment, namely, RoverPC). By changing the platform Acer toed the starting line with other companies. HTC and Samsung were also making first steps in their experiments with the android; as far as the users were concerned, any Android smartphone would become a terra incognita, whatever the brand. For Acer, entering the Android market was a way better chance to win as compared to the WM segment.

Having released Acer Liquid, the company demonstrated several low end Android smartphones at Mobile World Congress 2010 along with the Liquids successor, an E model with larger memory and Android 2.1 on board. In June, at the Computex exhibition in Taipei, they presented the hero of this review: a new flagship smartphone named Acer Stream.

For Acer, this is an important step as the company has made its first attempt to present an Android device with its own interface: while Liquid and Liquid E had minimum extra software features, Stream boasts a brand new Acer interface that looks like no others (Sense, TouchWiz). From the hardware point of view, it is a Snapdragon smartphone with typical flagship characteristics (sounds like oxymoron, right?). Lets have a closer look at it.

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Design

As it often happens with all kinds of phones and smartphones, the Streams design is disputable. Moreover, this device will be much more controversial than the previous Acer smartphones from the design point of view. Before writing the review, I scrolled through some forums and blogs (as usual) and noticed a typical trend (again as usual): approximately 50% of the comments on the Streams design stated that a shovel is a shovel; another 50%, on the contrary, were positive.

From my point of view, theres something about how Acer Stream looks, some kind of zest, some piece of diablerie (dont know how to call or describe it). Theres something in this smartphone that keeps me from calling it just a shovel; however, I wont call it beautiful, either. Theres some magnetism; however, the design is definitely not everyones cup of tea, for its really disputable and ambiguous. The only comparison that comes to my mind is HTC HD2 vs. Acer Stream. Both can easily be classified as shovels by their size; however, HD2 has some shape, style (and dont forget the metal cover that adds some charm and status). Acer Stream doesnt have all this, still theres something else though I cant say exactly what it is.

The shape of the body is conservative; the perimeter is surrounded by a thin belt of glossy plastic that doesnt perform and function except livening up the dull exterior.

The screen is slightly raised above the main body; the block of sensor buttons (with one hardware button) is also raised. You can see how it looks on the pictures below.


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Body materials

Front panel is made of gray plastic; it strongly resembles the silver plating widely used in Acer laptops two or three years ago. The back side (and partially the sides and edges) is made of matt and velvety soft-touch plastic.

On the one hand, one could grumble that the materials are not classy enough for a flagship smartphone; on the other hand, the only disadvantage of using simple plastics is that there is absolutely no wow effect at all. Anyway, there are really no problems from the practical point of view. Matt black plastic on the battery cover will not get soiled, stains and fingerprints are not visible, and the silver-plated plastic area is too small to really worry about wear and tear. Besides, the smartphones design is far from whats usually called beautiful; therefore, even if the plastic gets slightly worn after 6 or 12 months of use it still wont look horrible, IMHO.

The only part that gets easily soiled is the screen surface. It collects stains and fingerprints all the time; all youve got to do is wipe these out or ignore them.

The build is OK, the battery cover sits firmly in its place, the microUSB and HDMI cap sits tight and the hardware buttons are slack-free.

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Dimensions

Dimensions-wise, Acer Stream is just like HTC HD2 and smartphones of similar size. In other words, its a shovel, a smartphone the size of a PDA. One can grumble a little bit that, despite being as large as HTC HD2 and Sony Ericsson X10, Acer Stream still has a smaller screen (although the front panel is large enough to house at least a 4 display). Alas, weve got to put up with the 3.7 screen (same as in HTC Desire and Google Nexus One).

  • HTC HD2 – 120,5 x 67 x 11 mm, 157 g 
  • Acer Stream – 119,5 x 63 x 11,2 mm, 140
  • Sony Ericsson X10 – 119 x 63 x 13 mm, 135 g 
  • HTC Desire – 119 x 60 x 12 mm, 135 g
  • Apple iPhone 3GS – 115,5 x 62,1 x 12,3 mm, 135 g 

The smartphone is relatively comfortable to be kept in the pants or jeans pockets if you are dexterous enough and get used to it (same with HTC HD2 or SE X10); however, the most reasonable solution would be to put Stream in the bag or backpack. Everything is relative; however, keeping the device in the jackets pocket will definitely make no sense.

Acer Strean vs HTC HD2:

Acer Strean vs Google Nexus One:

Acer Strean vs HTC Desire:

Acer Strean vs HTC Touch Diamond:

Acer Strean vs HTC MAX 4G:

The grip is good thanks to the rounded ends and edges on the back side and the matt smooth plastic of the battery cover.

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Controls

The situation with Acer Streams controls is not simple at all (like other Android smartphones). Samsung is flirting with sensors, HTCs promoting optical trackball and bouncing between hardware keys and preposterous sensor panels; at the same time, all manufacturers seem to have ganged up against hardware pickup / hangup buttons. So how about Acer Stream?

Right underneath the screen is a block of sensor buttons; however, the first button is a hardware one. The only reason why they made it like that is probably because the Home button has two functions: pushing the button gets you back to the main menu, and holding it opens the widget menu. Holding a button is by all means easier when its tangible (i. e. a hardware button). This button is followed by a block of sensor buttons: Search, Back and Menu (calling the context menu). When pressing any of these, the device vibrates a little bit. The block of sensor buttons is large enough, and buttons are easy to use despite them being sensors; besides, the buttons are well backlit in white (the only problem with the backlight is that it goes out very quickly).

By the way, pressing the Home button wakes up the phone (when the screen is off). This is not only good because the Home button is way easier to push than the screen / smartphone ON button on the left edge but also because the latter is very thin, small and unhandy to use.

Besides these two functions, the Home button also serves as an indicator of events. In other words, the light rim around the button glows orange when the smartphone is charging or connected to a PC, white when there are missed events (call, email, messages) and green when the smartphone is fully charged. Of course the indication may change when the final version is released and the sales start.

Below this block of buttons, there are three hardware buttons for multimedia control. The buttons are well spaced from each other, so there are no problems with pushing them. Using these buttons, you can control the music playback or scroll through video clips. As of today, the buttons performance still requires some polishing: for instance, holding the FF or REW buttons during video and audio playback only allows skipping to the next or previous video or audio track, and you cannot navigate inside these. The buttons work in the standard Android player and also in third party applications (at least they worked correctly in the MortPlayer installed on this smartphone).

Lets speak about Acer Streams additional buttons now. The left edge is home to the smartphone / screen OFF and volume buttons. The right edge houses the camera button. Unfortunately, all these buttons are inconvenient to use. To begin with, the buttons are narrow and thin, they have a very short and hard stroke, i. e. you need to push hard to click them. Besides the camera button, in the upper part of the right edge there are two connectors (microUSB and HDMI) covered by a protective cap.

On the bottom end there are no elements except for the microphone hole; on the upper end, there is a 3.5 jack for a headset or headphones.

Lets make a stop here for a while and talk about logics. What weve got is a smartphone with multimedia buttons to control the playback of music and video, there is also a 3.5 mm jack. Seems like all this will make us happy; however, the happiness is a little bit darkened by the fact that the multimedia buttons are located near the bottom, while the 3.5 mm jack is on the on upper end of the smartphone. Lets imagine an ordinary situation when youre using the smartphone as a music player and keeping it in your pocket. Obviously, the device will be placed in the pocket with the 3.5 mm jack up (thats convenient) and the headphones cord will not get bent or twisted in the pocket too much. In other words, thats the most logical position of the smartphone.

And now lets imagine what will happen if we try to quickly control the playback of music (without pulling the device out of the pocket) while holding Acer Stream like that. Thats basically what multimedia buttons are made for: simplifying the use of players basic functions such as rewinding the track or pausing the playback. Accordingly, if the Stream is sitting in the pocket the with the headphones jack up, multimedia buttons are at the bottom. Thats not convenient. And not logical.

On the back of the smartphone in the bottom there is a speaker hole. SIM cards and memory card slots are located above the battery; to pull out any of these, you will have to remove the battery first.

On the front, in the upper part, there is a speaker covered with metal grille. A light sensor and a proximity sensor are located underneath and to the right of the speaker.

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Screen

The smartphone uses AMOLED touchscreen display that is nearly identical to those used in HTC Desire and Google Nexus One. The screen is 3.7, 800x480 (WVGA) with up to 16 million colors, the matrix measures 80.5 mm x 48.5 mm (3.17 x 1.90). The screen is very bright, with high contrast and vivid colors, and the crispness of picture is probably second best to Samsung Wave.

View angles are maximum; the picture does not get distorted even when looked at from a big angle. Maximum brightness level is high: use it in the outdoors when sunshine is bright. Minimum brightness level is very high even as compared to such smartphones as HTC Desire and Google Nexus One. If youre going to read books in the dark, its not a very good point: at first, you will have to get used to the unusually bright screen or even select some special colors and hues to compensate for the high brightness level.

However, there is also a positive side about it. Unlike the Google Nexus One and HTC Desire screens, the Acers display does not go pink as the brightness does down. Even when the brightness slider is set to zero, the gray on the screen remains gray without getting dingy pink (like with HTC Desire).

The screen is capacitive, with multi-touch support in various applications, in the browser, Google Maps and picture viewer.

The screen is covered with protective glass (a special type of plastic usually called glass by the manufacturers); it gets soiled easily, just like any other device with a large touchscreen. The screen surface wont get scratched by keys, scissor etc.; however, of course if you go to a beach and put a bunch of sand into your pocket with the smartphone in it, chances are high that you end up scratching the screen.

The screen goes blind in the sun; not as bad as TFT screens in communicators, still bad enough to give you a hard time reading the information. Finger touch response is perfect, nothing to worry about. Shown below for comparison are screenshots of HTC Desire and Acer Stream.

Acer Stream vs HTC Desire

Original pictures (source: HTC, Flikie Wallpapers, www.interfacelift.com, www.deviantart.com)

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Camera

The communicator is equipped with a 5 Megapixel camera with autofocus. The eye of the camera is in the upper part of the back side of the body and is slightly sunk in. The camera eye does not have a protective glass cover, so dust easily gets in.

In the viewfinder mode, the following information is displayed on the screen: shooting type icon (photo or video), gallery button and remaining shots number or record time available. Pressing the screen in any area calls out an additional menu where you can set the resolution (definition), white balance, brightness, timer and additional settings. The camera interface is user-friendly and neat, its a pleasure to use it.

The following resolutions are available for photos:

  • 5 M – 2592x1944
  • 3M – 2048x1536
  • 2M – 1600x1200
  • 1M – 1280x960
  • 0.3M – 640x480
  • Wallpaper – 800x480
  • HD – 1280x720
  • FullHD – 1920x1080

Credit shall be given to the camera interface and software developers; just think of such a small thing as the 800x480 resolution to set the photo as wallpaper; Ive never seen this feature anywhere but on Acer Stream.

White balance:

  • Auto
  • Incandescent lamp
  • Daylight lamp
  • Daylight
  • Cloudy

Besides the aforementioned settings, you can change the contrast level and select color effects. You can turn off the shutter sound, use timer shooting and activate shooting with geotags using GPS. Besides, the photo camera has a built-in image stabilization function; however, I did not notice any effect from using it at all during the shooting.

There is a macro mode that can be used for close-ups from 6-7 cm and more. Close-up shots are very noisy; dont know if this is an engineering prototype problem. Maybe the camera module will be the same in commercial products, maybe not.

Text shots were clear nearly in all cases from the very first attempt; the pink spot in the center is not as visible as with HTC Desire or HD2, still it is there.

You can see the quality of pictures yourselves based on the examples shown above; just in case, please look at the shots taken by Acer Stream and HTC Desire. If I were to make comments on these photos, Id say the following: in both cases (HTC Desire and Acer Stream) we have equally terrible photos, except that the problems are different. The shots taken by Desire are very dim, they lack sharpness and definition; colors are lacking, too. Shots made by Acer Streams camera are over-contrast and over-sharp, colors are acid: blue tints prevail even where there shouldnt be any. Along with HTC Desire, Acer Stream holds an honorable place at the very bottom of the picture quality rating of 5 Megapixel phones. Will the camera get better in the final version? Dont know; frankly speaking, Id rather say the answer is no, it wont than yes, it will.

Acer Stream HTC Desire

Video

Video is recorded in MP4 or 3GP formats (codec 3gp4 or h.263) with variable recording speed (from 3 to 38 frames per second on the sample video). Sound is recorded using samr codec in mono mode.

The following definitions are available for video:

  • 720p – 1280x720
  • 420p – 720x480
  • VGA – 640x480
  • QVGA – 320x240    
  • CIF – 352x288
  • QCIF – 176x144

Video settings are minimalistic: recording time can be limited to ten minutes to allow uploading it on YouTube, you can also change the white balance and video format. Sound recording in video mode cannot be switched off. Zooming is available in any video definition (except for 720p). Zooming is not available during recording, you will have to stop recording first anyway. Quality of video can be evaluated based on the sample below; so far it has been low, I hope there will be an improvement before the sales begin, otherwise there will be no sense in 420p and 720p definitions at all.

Video sample (3gp, 34 MB) >>>

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Battery

The phone features Li-Ion battery of 1400 mAh. During its use of around two weeks in different modes Acer Stream worked on average 24 hours from one charge.

The usual schedule was the following: 30-40 minutes in talk mode a day, 10-15 text messages, Gmail and MS Exchange Server accounts with the activated push mail function. If to use the smartphone for music playback the operating time goes down from 24 to around 16-18 hours. It is better than HTC Desire and Google Nexus One anyway, which lose the battery charge with this schedule (music playback included) by the middle of the day. We have to hope that final samples will be on par with engineering prototypes or will even beat them in this respect.

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Performance

The smartphone is built on Qualcomm QSD8250 (Snapdragon) platform with 1 GHz processor. It boasts 512 MB of main storage, while it is not clear how much internal storage for the software installation will be available. Some sources promise 512 MB, others - 2 GB. In preliminary specifications we can read about 2 GB, but my test sample had only 512 MB. If the manufacturer sticks with 512 MB, then Acer Stream will have the same capacity as HTC Desire, but if they go for 2 GB it will be a considerable advantage over Desire and Google Nexus One with their 512 MB of storage enough to install no more than 30 average sized applications.

The smartphone supports Xvid and all standard Android formats and codecs. Video playback in 720p mode is a bit problematic as the handset just cant handle it at the moment. 480p is not a problem now. When the sales start Acer Stream is promised by the manufacturer to play 720p with ease.

I will not mention the overall speed of performance, because I had a slow engineering prototype. Surely, the final samples should work quicker and I will try to update this article or write a short material when the sales of Acer Stream start. I will report on whether the drawbacks were eliminated (in particular, the low performance speed) or not.

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Interfaces

The phone works in GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and UMTS (900/1900/2100). It supports both high speed data transmission standards EDGE and HSDPA. Activation and deactivation of different modules is carried out by the standard widget in Android 2.1 or by clicking the icon indicating the level of signal reception. In this case you will see the popup panel and from there you can control wireless interfaces, activate or deactivate any module or customize their settings. It is a very convenient feature, which has not been implemented before Acer in such a complete form.

To synchronize with the PC and transfer data the microUSB with USB 2.0 is used. When you connect to the computer above the system line (which indicates the level of signal reception, battery charge and other information) appears the menu, where you can choose the type of connection. It can be data transfer mode (microSD memory is visible) or the modem mode.

Integrated Bluetooth 2.1 module with EDR. Information on the used stack and supported modules (apart from A2DP mentioned in the current specifications) is not available yet and I will try to add it here when I find it out. The sound quality during the music playback in wireless headphones is average and I cannot say anything else.

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g). Wi-Fi worked without any complaints. You can customize the rules of sleep mode transition for Wi-Fi, use only the static IP address during the connection and add security certificates. With active Wi-Fi the model barely warms up.

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Navigation

Acer Stream uses gpsOne chip, which is standard for all models on Qualcomm. Cold start takes up to 30 seconds and then the satellites are found within 5-7 seconds (we made tests with the help of GPS Status application available from the Market).

There is no special software for navigation, but Google Maps is installed. It can help you to plan the routes (without the voice prompts), search addresses via street names or places (restaurant, cafe, proper name of an institution, etc.). The advantage of this application over more specialized navigation software is that as the maps are downloaded from the Internet you can theoretically navigate in any big city of the world. The main thing here is to have Internet connection, which at the same time is the main disadvantage of Google Maps because without the Internet connection it becomes useless.

The version for the Russian market offers Google Maps as Google Maps Navigation is traditionally absent.

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Sound

After its release Acer Stream will become one of the first Android devices with the support of DOLBY mobile and surround sound. I cannot comment on the surround sound, but the general sound quality in Acer Stream impressed me more than in HTC Desire and Google Nexus One. The difference is probably down to my personal preferences, but I enjoyed listening to music on Stream a bit more.

FM radio

Acer Stream has FM radio where you can record the transmission with one push of a button, use manual or automatic tuning and change themes. Radio stations can be also added to the favorites and given names.

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Text input

The standard screen keypad of Acer Stream is as bad as those used in Sony Ericsson X10 and other Android phones except HTC models. Before discussing this keypad I have to remind you that any Android phone can be equipped with HTC_IME keypad, or Smart Keyboard from Android Market, which unfortunately is no longer free.

The basic Acer Stream keypad is similar to the standard Android 2.1 keypad with quick access to special symbols when . button is pressed and hold. The smileys input window can be activated by pressing and holding the button with the smile. Full sized QWERTY with Latin letters is more or less convenient, but the Cyrillic layout is horrible, because the keys are so narrow and close to each other that it is difficult to press them and at first you will often press wrong keys.

There is a usual telephone keypad and simplified QWERTY. They are similar to full sized QWERTY, but the convenience is far from impeccable. For each of the three keypads you can choose the vibro effect for every pressing and the accompanying sound signal. There is a dictionary, which can be enlarged by any words from your messages.

At the moment the main drawback of the keypad is not the small keys and the impossibility to enter figures and many special symbols outside the input menu. The problem is that this keypad has no control keys. I do not mean the keys up and down, they were absent in SE X10 as well, but we do not have even the keys right and left here. It means that if you make a mistake during the input and notice it a couple of words after you will have to pinpoint this mistake by tapping between the letters. In HTC Desire you can do it by the optic trackball, Google Nexus One offers the trackball, SE X10 uses the keys left and right on the keypad, while in Apple iPhone you should press and hold the word, which will activate the magnifying glass and you can move the cursor by your finger with ease. In test firmware of Acer Stream, it was difficult to move the cursor between the letters. I hope that by the start of the sales the company will add control keys to the keypad or comes up with another way of using the cursor in texts.

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Software

The smartphone works under Android 2.1 with the proprietary Acer UI we are going to discuss in details. In Acer Stream you can change the interface by a couple of clicks via the settings menu by choosing the standard interface or the one developed by Acer.

Full review of Android version 2.1 (Eclair)

Home screen

Let us look at the features of Acer UI in Android 2.1. The home screen of the interface is not divided into different screens as in Android, HTC Sense or TouchWiz. It works in the following way. We have one screen with the information about time, current date and the alarm icon if it is on. Below we have the panel with quick access to applications or settings icons. The top of this panel features the system bar, which moves down when the applications or settings menu are opened.

The panel with the applications icons can be dragged until it becomes full sized. In this case the field with 8 icons will be at the top and remains static, while the area below with 16 applications icons will be active. Here you have all installed applications, utilities, etc. It is the traditional list of all applications, but while in standard Android 2.1 and Sense it can be scrolled up and down, here it is divided into different screens. You can move between them left or right and the active screen is indicated by the figure at the bottom. From the bottom part of the panel you can drag any icon up and it will be available on the main screen.

Now let us move to the system line. It is situated right above the panel with 8 icons. It shows the system information, the level of signal reception, battery charge, active interfaces, etc. If you click the system line, you will activate a new menu to work with the line. If you click the area with the clock, you will open the panel for customizing the alarm or the clock.

If you move the finger to the right you go to another panel, in this case with notifications. It can be launched by simple clicking on the notifications icon in the system bar. This panel displays all notifications on new Gmail messages, installed applications or the lack of free space on the drive. The advantage of this approach is that all notifications are represented by one icon in the system line. If you install 10 applications in a row in HTC Desire you will see 10 identical icons in the system bar notifying about the successful installation. In Acer Stream you see one icon and if clicked it opens the vertical list with the notifications.

Then we have the panel, which shows incoming messages for different accounts apart from Gmail.

Next follow the panels with settings of PC connection and wireless interfaces described above. Applications, for example the music player, have panels in the system bar. If during the playback you click the player icon you will open the panel with the cover and music playback controls.

Going back to the main screen we have the panel with 8 icons at the bottom and above there is a field with time and date. To the left and right from this panel we have smaller panels, which can be dragged out as well. The right ones host pictures, audio and video. By making it bigger you can watch pictures or choose music and video tracks.

If you start the player the picture (it can be a simple image or a live wallpaper) on the main screen is replaced with the cover of the current album. The widget screen (we will mention it below) will have the background picture changed to the album cover as well.

Now drag the left panel. Mini pictures display the latest launched applications. This log stores more than 20 launched applications and if you choose any of them you will instantly see a static jpg image (a snapshot of the latest program status) and such application will start in a couple of seconds.

Unlike the standard Android 2.1 or Sense if you hold the key Home it will open not the launched applications log, but the widgets.

Widgets

In Acer Stream widgets have a separate area and they can be opened by holding Home key or by pushing the button in the applications list.

Widgets menu has five screens and in each of them you can have several mini applications depending upon their size. Navigation between the screens requires the finger movement to the right or to the left. When you add a widget to one of the screens you see the grid, which helps you to locate any widget better.

To my mind, the separate area for widgets is a bit strange, but the home screen strategy used in Acer UI did not allow anything else.

Phone functions

Acer Stream (as HTC models) has the proprietary utility for calls similar to SmartDial in Windows Mobile devices. It means that you can search the contacts straight in the dialer.

The phonebook has 4 pages: dialer, call records, contacts and favorites. In the call records all calls are given in one list. Topic grouping or consolidation of calls from one contact are not supported.

You can search contacts in the phonebook through the field Search or by scrolling the list in the right part of the screen.

The contacts have one more interesting feature based on preinstalled application Barcode Scanner, which allows representing each contact as the QR code and sending it via e-mail, Bluetooth or uploading to Picasa, etc.

Home screen settings

Quick customization of home screen main features (home screen wallpaper and display of certain elements) is carried out by Home Decor application. It helps to choose the wallpaper, the option to replace the wallpaper by the album cover during the music playback or other changes.

Software

Dictaphone. This simple dictaphone for voice recording allows viewing the recordings. It does not work in the background mode though.

MusicA. This application searches for the currently played track in the database and displays its title. It can be useful sometimes.

Twidroid. This useful twitter client is represented in Acer Stream by its Pro version. Additional information about Twidroid is available here.

Tasks. This application is used to create tasks, but unfortunately it cannot be synchronized with the tasks from MS Exchange Server.

Apart from the described applications Acer Stream has calculator, two music players (one would be enough), free version of Documents to Go to view office documents (editing is supported only if you buy this software) and utilities RoadSync for synchronization with MS Exchange Server. I think that the features of this suite are not far in front of standard Android 2.1 solutions for the synchronization with Exchange.

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Rival products

The accurate price of the device is not known yet and it complicates its comparison with other products. I will be brief then. HTC Desire, Google Nexus One and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 have similar characteristics. If Acer Stream is priced a bit below Desire it will be quite reasonable, because this brand is renowned for its competitive prices and accessible laptops or PCs. Such price is currently discussed in the company.

If the device similar to HTC Desire in terms of features has the same price the majority of consumers will choose the product from HTC and Stream will remain exotic. But 20% lower price will turn this product into a more attractive option against the backdrop of more upmarket models from SE and HTC. These assumptions are valid as of today, but in 2 months the price of HTC Desire and SE X10 can be different and the situation will change.

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Conclusion

The signal reception is good. There are no complaints as to the volume levels of the speaker and loudspeaker either. Both of them have excellent volume potential. When I was using Acer Stream I set volume at 60-70 %, because at the maximum capacity the people around will hear it as the hands free mode.

Despite minor issues in the engineering prototype I like Acer Stream. It is difficult to explain in a couple of sentences why I find interesting this model with controversial design. First attention is attracted by its design. It is interesting despite gray and black colors and office style. Then, Acer Stream has nice little features like hardware buttons for music and video control, loud speakers and DOLBY mobile. And thirdly, Acer have managed (if the final samples are quicker) to create a truly convenient interface. At the same time this shell is completely different from Sense, TouchWiz and standard Android 2.1, though easy to use and logical.

The exact date of release in Russia is unclear, but it should be somewhere in August. Pricewise it should be around 20% below HTC Desire. Moreover, one month after the sales start the update to Android 2.2. Froyo will be available for Acer Stream as well.

To sum it up I recommend all users who think about trying Android platform to follow the developments around Acer Stream, and after the sales start at least to give it a look in the shops if you need a top Android device for the reasonable amount of money. If priced below HTC Desire Acer Stream should be one of the best solutions on offer.

Description:

  • Form factor: candybar
  • Operating system: Android 2.1 + proprietary Acer UI
  • Networks: GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS/HSDPA 900/1900/2100
  • Platform: Qualcomm QSD8250, processor of 1 GHz
  • Main storage: 512 MB
  • Memory for applications: 2 GB + microSD slot (8 GB in the box) (preliminary information)
  • Interfaces: Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, HDMI, microUSB. 3,5 mm headphones jack
  • Screen: capacitive AMOLED, 3.7” with WVGA (800×480) resolution
  • Camera: 5 MP with autofocus, video recording in 720p resolution (24 frames per second)
  • Navigation: GPS on gpsOne chip of Qualcomm platform (with A-GPS support)
  • Additional features: playback of Xvid, FM radio, accelerometer, light sensor, proximity sensor
  • Battery: Li-Ion of 1400 mAh
  • Dimensions: 119.5x63x11.2 mm (4.70”x2.48”x0.44”)
  • Weight: 140 g (4.93 oz)

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Artem Lutfullin (artem@mobile-review.com)
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Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Timour Juste (tim.juste@gmail.com)

Published - 10 June 2010.

Having something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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