By December 22, 2009

Review: Acer A1 Liquid

1DDFC329-16BE-4F3A-BA93-93D9185EDDC5 My initial reaction to this Acer Android device was desire and excitement. On paper everything looked great, the design was sexy, the OS robust and the price tag was uber-attractive. Did it do it for me? Well, yes and no. You will have to decide.

The device isn’t as thin as the likes of the iPhone, but it is not exactly podgy either. It’s a nice width for daily use and one handed use is achievable with minimal adaption.

The left side of the device has the power button. It’s made from quite light plastic, like all the exterior buttons.

The right sees a volume rocker and a dedicated camera button. Glad to see the camera button, I’m growing increasingly tired of phone omitting the camera button, it is something most will find essential.

On the bottom is a little door leading to the charger port, an oddity is the miniUSB connector under here, Why Acer has decided to package one of these is anyone’s guess since the market has decided that microUSB will be the standard. Also present is a small hole for the mic.

The front face is smothered in delicious black gloss,  Of course, in direct light this will be marred by finger prints but it’s offset by the white surround and ends up looking very elegant at all times. At 3.5 it’s are real shame there is no Multitouch in Android 1.6.

The top of the device has a nice feature. LED notifications. Under the black, transparent plastic lies a number of notification lights for battery charging, new mail and call indicator. Designed for the shirt breast pocket I guessing and brilliant when in use. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack. Great stuff.

The back of the device sees the raised housing for the 5.0 megapixel camera and a small grill for the loudspeaker. No flash or self portrait mirror however. The loudspeaker sounds fair enough however it is too close to the plastic and you can here something of a plasticy reverberation from the cover when the loud speaker is active. Much like a cheaper sound system this shows up the device’s elegant design and reminds you of the price tag.

Under the “rip away” back cover is the battery compartment. Like the S200 this has a little clip to secure the battery and I like this. Sim card and MicroSD are also here.

Android OS is flavoured 1.6. There are only a couple of modifications by Acer, mainly some fan type affairs on the sides of the expanded desktop. These fans hold media on the far left and website bookmarks on the far right. Without and heavy modifications like HTC Sense of Moto Blur we are able to experience an also raw Android experience and it’s wonderful.

If you look at these two unboxing videos you will see just how speedy the device is. This is the biggest plus point of the phone. Android feels natural. There is little in the way of lag, in fact I might be so bold to say that I have yet to experience any lag. the odd loading screen but nothing unexpected. A click of an icon and your application is right there. Simply stunning. Even though the processor runs at 768mhz and the 1ghz processor are about to take over the market, this device just nails Android. Fast and stable.

Some of the more perceptive will notice the device has done away with some of the usual suspects when it comes to operating buttons. Gone is the d-pad or trackball as well as the two call buttons. Instead the Acer dares to rely on the screen from most functions. The four buttons we are left with are mostly non-standard function buttons. The Square is a home button, the search button is the only standard here, a back button is pretty handy and the menu button is maybe a little more unrecognisable.
A small problem is that these buttons are touch sensitive, as oppose to being clicky buttons.The only light up when you touch them so using them an night can be problematic especially when you accidentally hit the back button instead of menu. 

The screen is beautifully sensitive. Acer has for some reason down played the capacitive display which is odd. I’m quite taken by it, even though it does not have that glass quality feel of the iPhone it manages to still feel solid and responsive.

Battery life is so-so, I’m still in the honeymoon period and the phone has stood up to moderate – heavy usage each day. I don’t make that many phone calls however I would have Twitter set to check every 5 minutes and probably spend about 2 hours interacting with the net in some shape of form. The battery is generally on about 30% by the end of the day. However, it’s interchangeable so it may not be the biggest concern.

All good so far, what’s the problems? Well, there are three.

First. The quality of the camera is pretty awful. I’m shock this is marketed as a 5.0 megapixel. Of course, megapixel isn’t the best way to grade a camera. The pictures here are from a trip to a petting zoo, in the middle of the afternoon, might have be a little over cast but the light levels were ample of a few snaps. The camera was slow to focus, slow to snap and the output was pretty murky. This was on auto and no end of fiddling would help improve these shots.

2009-12-12 15.53.03 2009-12-12 15.53.27 2009-12-12 15.55.30 2009-12-12 15.56.01 2009-12-12 15.56.38 2009-12-12 15.34.42  2009-12-12 15.38.46  2009-12-12 15.40.29 2009-12-12 15.40.46 2009-12-12 15.41.41       2009-12-12 15.49.07 

Secondly. the phone is housed in a glossy plastic housing. Glossy plastic tends to be slippy, especially in cold weather. The phone has slipped from my hands a number of times. It’s a real pain given the screen is super sensitive when fumbling around, trying to catch it, you’ll invariably hit a button you are not wanting to hit. I lost an email thanks to this and called someone I really didn’t want to speak to.

Thirdly and most of all, once signal is lost, it seems to stay lost. Moving from town to town I noticed that the phone received no service and it didn’t latch back onto anything until I turned the phone off and on again. Quite a serious problem if you ask me. I paid close attention when heading back home again, to find the same thing happened again.
The aerial is not as strong as one would care for. Comparing it to my Touch Pro2 the Acer spent a lot of time with 1-2 bars less at any given moment. Not woeful, just not stellar.

I’m honestly loving this device and given the price I think this is a must for anyone wanting the move to Android. The network problems may present a significant problem for some users but hopefully it a problem solely relating to the device I am using or an update will appear in the future.
Screaming ahead of the Heroes, G1’s and Magic’s the Liquid is fast and stable. The same level of customisation hasn’t been worked in here, but that all depends on taste. For sheer performance the Acer trounces the others. The price is excellent and whilst the build quality isn’t on the same level as HTC, Samsung or Motorola it’s not quite as bad so you might expect.

Thanks go out to Clove who have supplied us this review device

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Network – GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 1900 / 2100
Size – 115 x 62.5 x 12.5 mm
Weight – 135 g
Display – TFT capacitive touchscreen, 256K colors
Size – 80 x 800 pixels, 3.5 inches
Memory – Internal 256MB RAM, 512MB ROM
Card slot – microSD up to 32GB
Data – GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 2.0 Mbps
WLAN – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth – v2.1 with A2DP
USB -  miniUSB
Camera – 5 MP, 2560?1920 pixels, autofocus
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8250 768 MHz processor
GPS with A-GPS support
Acer UI 3.0
Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate
Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
MP3/WAV/WMA/eAAC+ player
MP4/WMV/H.264/H.263 player
Facebook and Flickr integration
Pocket Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, PDF viewer)
Voice memo
3.5mm audio jack
Battery – Standard battery, Li-Ion 1350 mAh
Stand-by Up to 400 h
Talk time Up to 5 h

Posted in: Phones

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Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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