Rogers Acer Liquid e

Rogers new release Acer Liquid e  a mobile device with Android 2.1.Enjoy Rogers Acer Liquid e…..

Even though it was the first carrier to bring Android to Canada, Rogers has always had a bit of a tough time convincing Canadians to ditch their beloved BlackBerrys and iPhones in order to get their Google on. Recently it released the Acer Liquid e, a curious little device that many people know nothing about. We managed to snag one shortly after launch and gave it a spin, so if you are curious to know our thoughts on it click on through to  check out our Acer Liquid e hands on!

Your eyes do not deceive you; the Liquid E looks identical to the original Acer Liquid, the company’s first attempt at an Android smartphone. That’s because the key change is on the inside: the underclocked Snapdragon processor – running at 768MHz rather than the more usual 1GHz – now gets to play with Android 2.1 rather than the 1.6 of its predecessor. The first Liquid never really managed to lift its head above the rest of the smartphone crowd; will the Rogers Wireless Acer Liquid E fare better? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.

First and foremost, let’s get one thing out of the way. This isn’t a phone that’s intended to be a flagship or hero device, and that’s immediately evident when you pick it up. Made entirely out of plastic and measuring out at 115mm x 64mm x 12.75mm and weighing 135g, the phones does feel quite cheap in the hands. Not poorly built; just cheap.

The OS may be different, but otherwise much of the Liquid E we’ve seen before. You still get is a 3.5-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen, 5-megapixel autofocus camera (though lacking an LED flash), quadband GSM and triband 900/1900/2100 UMTS/HSPA. There’s also WiFi b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 and an FM radio, along with a microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone socket and A-GPS.

Rogers has also announced they’ll be carrying the device exclusively, which is probably what that “e” stands for (or maybe not, but it would still be fitting). We’re not sure if the newly announced “Ferrari” edition will be going to Rogers, as well, but it’s something to ponder if you like what that phone has to offer.

Acer is already prepping their next generation Android device, the Stream, which will soundly outclass the Liquid E when it comes out. Considering Acer’s love for Android will even be extending to tablets, I’m curious to see what they do for the platform as relatively unknown player in the smartphone space.

The Liquid E offers the ability to synchronize and back up files, contacts, the calendar, and Web bookmarks. Quick Contacts not only makes it easier to find friends and family, but also it allows for users to locate them on a map. Acer has taken steps to tweak the Android user experience by updating the updated lock screen, creating custom widgets, and preloading apps like Spinlets and UrFooz.

Unlike most Android phones, the Liquid E features three XT9 keyboards, including QWERTY, half-QWERTY Qwerty, and 12-Digit Numeric. All three offer predictive text, autocorrection, and multilingual dictionaries.

On the whole, the device performs very well. This is despite the fact its Snapdragon processor has been underclocked from 1GHz to 768MHz. Acer did this to help preserve battery life, but it appears to have made little difference. It really only took one work day to drain the battery, and even then we only touched the thing a handful of times.

Call quality is above average, with not a whole lot of background noise and minimal hiss whether using the earpiece or speakerphone. The phone has great reception and consistently pulled down data at just over 3Mbps in during our speed tests. Those two things are great, right? Yup. They sure are. Except that it in no time at all the phone gets so hot that you could fry an egg on it.

At 4.53 x 2.46 x 0.49 inches it’s not the slimmest Android phone, and there are a few creaks if you squeeze the plastic casing too hard, but generally build quality feels reasonable and it’s surprisingly lightweight. The touch-sensitive keys underneath the display are responsive, while the power, volume and camera keys are tactile; we wish Acer hadn’t hidden their USB 2.0 port under an annoying little flap, however. Oft-overlooked but brilliant are the hidden LED icons integrated into the top edge of the Liquid E, which allow you to peer at the phone in your pocket and see whether you have new messages.

Despite the underclocked processor the Liquid E is reasonably swift in its navigation, helped no doubt by being a pretty much stock build of Android 2.1. That means you get the regular Android widgets and Live Wallpapers, but no complex widgets like HTC Sense or Motorola MOTOBLUR might offer. On the flip side, should Acer decide to publicly commit to an Android 2.2 Froyo upgrade, that should be a quick process; we’ve already seen unofficial Froyo ROMs for the phone.

The 3.5″ WVGA display should please most people. Text is very sharp and there is no shortage of vibrancy to images. This isn’t to say it is without its share of issues. During our time with the Liquid e we noticed something that we feel we shouldn’t have: 112 dots which happen to be the sensors responsible for mapping where your fingers are. Granted not everyone will have good enough eyesight to notice the sensors (they’re fairly small), but if you do, it will irritate you to no end. Our device also had a dead pixel straight out of the box.

Lurking at the very edges of the multi-pane homescreen is Acer’s wheel-like Acer Sync app, which offers internet bookmarks on one end and music/photo/video catalogs at the other. There’s also Acer Task, a very basic task management that lacks synchronisation support (though you can import task lists), and Acer Media Server. The latter is part of Acer’s new push to interlink their various product lines and make sharing multimedia between different devices more straightforward. You can select either all media, select folders, artists or albums, or only content taken with the Liquid E’s camera, and make them accessible via WiFi to any DLNA-compliant media player. It works well, and if you’ve a DLNA-capable TV it’s a quick way to show off your latest snaps.

The quality of those snaps varies depending on the lighting conditions, and without an LED flash – which, to be fair, often aren’t much cop either – you’ll want to look elsewhere if low-light photography is your priority. Images can be on the oversaturated side, and look a little over-sharpened at times. What’s significantly improved is the camera’s speed: unlike the laggy first-gen version of the phone, the Liquid E’s autofocus snaps in quickly, and photos are saved shortly after. We don’t know if that’s down to Google’s updated OS or something Acer themselves have done, but either way we’re pleased. That autofocus speed carries over into the camcorder function, though with resolution maxing out at 640 x 480 VGA the Liquid E falls well short of the 720p HD recording we’re seeing on rival devices. Image quality is on the gritty side, especially when played – via Media Server – on a bigger display.

And then there’s the camera. It has a 5 megapixel sensor with autofocus. In ideal lighting, the camera does a good job with pictures with fairly accurate colors, if not a bit heavy on the red. The autofocus is fairly fast and you won’t need to wait a lot of time between pictures. If you find yourself in a lot of low-light environments, you might as well bring a pencil and sketch book because the photos the Liquid e produces without an abundance of light is quite horriffic. The Liquid e also has video capture capabilities. The resolution of the videos is only VGA, though they’re pretty decent

In comparison to devices like the EVO 4G, the Nexus One and other high-end Android smartphones, the Acer Liquid E feels a little underwhelming. Still, it’s priced to move: $49.99 on a new Rogers Wireless contract (albeit with a lengthy three year agreement). That budget pricing goes a long way in offsetting any criticisms; all we need now is a public commitment from Acer to push out updated Android OS versions in a timely manner.

I find it reassuring to see companies like Acer trying their hand at Android and somewhat succeeding. Though we aren’t likely to see any of the company’s products here in the United States, it’s good to see someone keeping Motorola, HTC, and Samsung busy.


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