Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:59:25 PM
Great styling, slim shape and good camera
Curiously difficult Android overlay
Touch-screens have come a long way in a short time. Shonky resistive screens have been largely replaced by the more expensive, more appealing capacitive displays found on the iPhone and elsewhere. There's a capacitive one on Acer's new Android-powered phone, the Stream, which is head and shoulders above all the company's earlier handsets.
This one looks stylish, has subtle touch-sensitive buttons for search, back and menu functions, and a raised home button at the base of the screen. Then there are three media buttons - something new on Android - for playback of videos and music. There are more surprises in store, as we'll see.
Touch-screens need to be precisely honed to be pleasurable to use. So when you touch the phone in one place, it shouldn't respond as though you've touched another. It's an occasional issue here, and slows down text input. Similarly, it's easy to launch a menu when you don't mean to because the 3.7-inch screen isn't quite as well configured as it might be. This aside, the phone is mostly fast and responsive, thanks to a 1GHz processor.
If you're familiar with Android, with its multiple home screens which are easily customisable, you may find Acer's take on the system needs quite some getting used to. Frankly, I was pretty lost at first. Where HTC has perfected a striking and individual overlay on basic Android which is intuitive, this is something different.
One of the many reasons Nokia is so successful is that its simple operating system is consistent between handsets. So loyalty is generated by users wanting a familiar experience. But here, if you want to add a widget to the home screen, say, it's different from other Android phones. Instead of simply pressing and holding the screen, here you must press and hold the home button. It's not a bad way to do it except the point of overlays is to add something to the existing way of doing stuff, not rewrite the rule book.
Wake the phone - and here's a good thing, you can launch the screen saver from the front of the phone, rather than reaching to the top edge as with the HTC Desire and others - and you'll see the home screen picture with a corner flicking, enticing you to flip it up. Do so and a menu of eight shortcut icons appears at the bottom of the display. Hope you'll like them: you can't get rid of them.
Swipe right on the main screen and you'll come to the media section for access to photos, video and music. Incidentally, next to the micro USB connector for charging the phone you'll find a mini HDMI out socket. Connect this to a compatible flatscreen TV and you can output videos, for instance, to a big telly. It's another feature which puts this phone way above Acer's previous efforts. And since the phone shoots HD video (at 720p resolution), the results can look rather good.
You can subscribe to Orange's Life is Better On social networking service. It creates an address book with your Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and mobile phone contacts, aggregating them happily together. It does a lot of cool things, such as allowing you to set your availability so friends can contact you easily (or not) and lets you know where your contacts are, if they're happy for you to know this. It's stylishly done, but can be complex to get to grips with at first. Still, it's handy for backing up contacts and more in case you lose your phone.
It's an extra feature on a well-featured phone which includes a decent camera and neat design among its strengths.