Acer neoTouch review: The dragon within
Camera not really our favorite
The Acer neoTouch has a 5 megapixel auto focus camera producing photos with a maximum resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels. The camera offers an intuitive user interface and shoots in landscape mode.
The neoTouch camera also sports a LED flash, but it barely makes a difference in low-light conditions.
Interface and features
The neoTouch camera viewfinder is familiar resembles those on the Samsung Omnia II and 8300 UltraTOUCH. The comfortable interface is nicely touch-optimized and has all controls you may need placed on the two vertical taskbars on both sides of the viewfinder. There you can change the shooting mode, turn on/off the time stamp, change resolution, choose white balance or flash mode or hit the advanced settings.
Speaking of the advanced settings, they offer tuning of ISO, default storage, stabilizer, image properties (contrast, brightness, etc).
The geo-tagging support on the Acer neoTouch allows you to record you current location in the EXIF of your images. You can use it once you choose the POI shooting mode.
The Acer neoTouch produces passable photos with good levels of detail. The noise levels are tolerable, though sometimes they can be a bit higher than usual.
Unfortunately our unit had some problems with the white balance and the color accuracy, but we tried to fix that by using the in-camera White balance presets (with varying success).
The photos may not be as good as the Nokia 6700 classic or Sony Ericsson C901, but still looks good enough to satisfy most of the users. And if Acer fix the white balance issue, the camera may jump even to the decent level.
We also snapped our resolution chart with the Acer neoTouch. You can check out what that test is all about here.
As you can see from the resolution chart, the resolved detail is not as much as we hoped but the resolution is enough for a 5 megapixel snapper and there are no obvious lens issues.
As far as video recording is concerned, the Acer neoTouch can offer VGA resolution at 30fps.
The camcorder interface is identical to the one of the still camera, except for the fact that some options have been disabled. Unluckily, there is no video stabilization.
The videos are not as nice as we expected. Though contrast and the actual frame rate are quite good, the videos suffer from some excessive compression and lack of detail so they look as if extrapolated from QVGA resolution.
Here is a sample video for you to check out.
Connectivity has it all
When it comes to connectivity the Acer neoTouch has it all covered - HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth + EDR.
The neoTouch has quad-band GSM support and tri-band 3G - 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz bands are supported. You can check out our Worldwide Network Bands distribution database.
USB 2.0 is supported as well through a miniUSB adaptor. When connected to a computer, the neoTouch prompts you to select among ActiveSync, Mass Storage or Modem modes.
In Mass Storage mode, the memory card is mounted as a removable drive on the computer for faster file transfers. The only downside is in this mode you have no access to the memory card from the handset itself - the card becomes invisible to the file manager.
Internet Explorer web browsing is surprisingly good
Now, this is the really interesting part - the new version of the Internet Explorer Mobile web browser has received a nicer touch-optimized interface and way cooler skin. It now sports kinetic scrolling and full Flash support, and should give you the browsing experience that it fails to deliver on the competing devices.
There are five available settings for text size and there is a mobile view mode. Still, on a high-res screen we are far more comfortable using the desktop mode, as web pages look much more natural.
Zooming though is best done with double tapping on the IE. It worked like a charm on the Acer neoTouch. Double taps are certainly more comfortable than the alternative zoom bar. To get to it you either use the dedicated button at the bottom of the screen or hold your finger on the screen to launch a context menu with a zooming option. And to add to the discomfort, when you zoom you loose the Fit-to-screen capability, so prepare for a lot of side scrolling to read those texts.
In contrast to the IE browser on the Samsung Omnia II, this version here does automatically rotate the pages thanks to the built-in accelerometer. The lack of that one on Omnia II was a huge bummer and we are happy to see that either Microsoft or Acer have found a way around that.
What's even better, the Mobile IE loads and scrolls faster than in the Omnia II and definitely features some kind of optimization. This time we really enjoyed browsing with it and we're happy to see it's going in the right direction.
But other options still remain and Opera Mobile is still the best among the Windows Mobile browsers and is available for free download. Even optimized, Internet Explorer still has a lot to catch up.
Agenda will get you organized
Windows Mobile offers several time-management features and all of them are easily syncable with Outlook. In the Acer neoTouch the Calendar app still exists deep in the menu, but Acer created their own management software called Agenda.
Agenda is a very simple yet nice organizer. The only offered view is monthly, where you can view the different events for each day by tapping on a particular date.
You can set an appointment or anniversary. Both of them have only the most common fields - subject, location, time, date. For all the other stuff you'll need to go to the Windows Mobile original Calendar. We know this will frustrate some hardcore users, but others surely will be happy to lose all the unnecessary text fields.
The apps, which need no explanations, are the Calculator, MSN Money (stocks), MSN Weather, To-Do list and Notes.
The Alarm clock has three alarm slots. Each Alarm can have its own repeat pattern. Unfortunately, due to the limited customization options in the default Alarms application, we suggest you check out some third-party alternative.