Acer neoTouch review: The dragon within
Office Mobile is readily available
Among the other WM core applications is the Office Mobile package featuring support for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. With the latest version of Office Mobile, you also have the OneNote application.
Power Point presentations are opened automatically in landscape mode.
Unfortunately there is no PDF reader preinstalled and you will need to buy one.
Apps and stuff
Since Acer are not keen on customizing Windows Mobile, you can't expect much from the application department either. There are only a few apps provided by default and really not enough to satisfy our expectations.
Besides the already mentioned apps in the organizer sections we have standard Windows Live services such as Live Search and MSN Messenger.
The Streaming Media manager allows access to custom sources of streaming audio and video.
The Social Networking app gives you access to your Flickr, Facebook or Blogger profiles. Facebook is the official Windows Mobile Facebook app, while Flickr and Blogger can be accessed through the Social Networking app itself and have simplified interfaces.
The typical Windows Mobile Solitaire and Bubble Breaker game duo are also onboard.
GPS with no navigation
The Acer neoTouch comes with built-in GPS with support from Assisted-GPS technology, commonly known as A-GPS. It means you can download current satellite data over Wi-Fi or the 2G/3G network for a much faster satellite lock.
There is only one GPS app - the GPS Viewer - where you can see your current GPS coordinates and satellite data.
Unfortunately, the Acer neoTouch has no SatNav software preinstalled - not even Google Maps.
The Acer neoTouch left us with mixed feelings. On the plus side it comes with the much heralded high-end 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU. It also has a huge 3.8" display and runs the latest Windows Mobile OS. And last but not least, it handles the OS very well and packs all kinds of connectivity options.
Switching to the negatives, Acer have done little to customize the OS, there is no dedicated music or video player beyond what Microsoft have to offer (and it's not much). There's no DivX/XviD support, the camera photo and video quality is a downer and there is no GPS satnav software on board. Acer have left Windows Mobile almost stripped to the bone, and this is inexcusable given what the likes of HTC and Samsung are doing in terms of making the interface more user-friendly. The final straw comes from the less than stellar video playback and poor choice of accessories in the retail box.
We have to admit though the neoTouch is not among the top-priced smartphones out there, so the lack of sweeties in the box and other omissions such as the GPS navigation software are not a major point against. But even for a mid-priced device we don't think it's too much to ask for a decent music player and some additional codec support.
A strong competitor with that kind of CPU under its hood and an even bigger 4.1" screen is the Toshiba TG01. Yet somehow we feel that its dimensions (except for the thickness) have crossed a certain line making usability questionable. The higher price and the relatively limited market availability are also hurting the TG01's chances. Not that Toshiba have done any deep customizations of the OS themselves either.
The HTC Touch Diamond2 is on the list too, though it doesn't even come close to a 3.8" screen or a 1GHz CPU. However at this stage the HTC champ has a more attractive price tag and that - combined with the time-tested TouchFLO 3D UI - might be enough to keep users interested. More importantly though, Windows Mobile 6.5 is already available for the Diamond2. HTC devices have a wide user base too and the strong community is always ready to give you a tip or help you tweak your gadget.
By the way, the Diamond2 is an option rather than a major challenge. The HD2 however should be downright scary. The Sense UI and capacitive touchscreen may just be too much for the neoTouch to beat. Not to mention the unmatched screen estate, though the 4.3" diagonal does raise some usability questions. Oh, and for the record, we're talking Snapdragon here as well.
The Samsung Omnia II already managed to impress us and it's perhaps set to give the neoTouch a good run for its money. It might not have the sheer processing power of the Acer neoTouch but the actual handling and response were perfect. The 3.7" AMOLED screen, fully customized UI, huge internal storage and all kind of software goodies make the I8000 Omnia II a serious player in the smartphone field this holiday season. For a few euros more than the neoTouch, the Omnia II delivers a mighty capable PocketPC without worries you might be missing on any key feature.
Honestly, we can't find it in our hearts to recommend the neoTouch as strongly as we would some of their Timeline laptops. It does have its good and bad points and given the current price it might be a reasonable investment of your money. Still, you may want to wait a bit for a price drop and see what kind of extra support Acer are willing to provide to make it a more attractive device. If that happens, the NeoTouch will be a handset worth considering. As for Acer, we don't need to tell you they're worth keeping an eye on. We, for one, would be glad to meet the Liquid.