Acer Stream review: White water rafting

GSMArena team, 03 August 2010.
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The camera scores five… on a one to ten scale

The camera interface is really simple. Start the camera and you get a viewfinder with three icons on the side (still camera, camcorder and gallery) along with the zoom slider at the bottom. To get to the settings you'll have to tap on the viewfinder or the menu button. It brings up some more options: Resolution, White balance, Brightness, Timer and Settings.

The Settings submenu lists Geotagging, Macro and Anti-Shake switches, ISO, effects, exposure, picture quality and contrast options.

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The Acer Stream camera interface

The image quality however is not even close to the best in the 5MP league. The resolved detail seems not enough, but this is not our main concern. Every image has a prominent magenta tint and the colors look way off. This is perhaps fixable with a fairly advanced image editor, but we usually expect those things to be sorted in the camera itself.

We also noticed that sometimes the pictures are out of focus around the edges. Some of these issues can perhaps be blamed on the pre-market status of our unit – they may be sorted in the retail version.

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Acer Stream camera samples

Synthetic resolution

We also snapped our resolution chart with the Acer Stream. You can check out what that test is all about here.

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Acer Stream resolution chart photo • 100% crops

Video recording

The Acer Stream claims membership in the elite club of mobile phones that shoot 720p video.

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Camcorder interface

Videos are captured in 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 24 fps. The actual videos are far from compelling though. The amount of resolved detail is obviously below 720p standards – it barely suits WVGA videos. The clips have very high noise levels and are out of focus in most cases. Continuous auto-focus is still a luxury for mobile phones and we don’t expect it in every other handset we test but the focusing routine of the Acer Stream is obviously flawed leading to bad focus lock in most videos. The magenta tint we observed in the still images is noticeable here too.

And to make the things worse, the videos are stored in 3GP format with heavy compression and lots of visible artifacts. There are quite a few dropped or doubled frames too and videos appear unpleasantly choppy.

No, we are not happy with the Acer Stream’s video recording at all. With an HDMI port on board and hardware that’s powerful enough, it’s a shame Acer didn’t get the actual video capturing right. That would be one of the things to fix with an upcoming update.

Here are some video samples.

You can also download a full untouched 720p video sample by the Acer Stream.

Premium connectivity

The Acer Stream has an excellent connectivity set. The phone is worldwide roaming ready with quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band HSPA. Download rates are up to 7.2 Mbps, with up to 2.0 Mbps upload speed.

The Acer Stream also offers Wi-Fi (b/g/n), Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP support and USB v2.0. The USB interface is standard microUSB, which makes finding a suitable cable a lot easier. Android 2.1 enables file transfers via Bluetooth, so there’s little else left to ask for.

On top of its 2GB integrated storage, the Acer Steram supports microSD cards of up to 32GB. The slot is under the battery cover, next to the battery and is not hot-swappable.

A micro HDMI port is there to deliver photos and videos in up to 720p to compatible devices and a proper HDMI cable comes in the retail box. However the HDMI output is only activated only when you open a photo or a video from within the preinstalled Nemo video player.

Once you open supported content, a pop-up appears prompting you to switch to the external screen. Just bear in mind that when the phone is paired to a TV over HDMI its screen goes blank. The only controls available in this mode are the hardware multimedia keys below the screen.

The 3.5 mm standard audio port completes the connectivity tally. You can keep your favorite headphones and use them with the Stream hassle-free.

Thanks to the Acer Sync software you can easily sync your Stream's calendar and contacts with your computer (the over-the-air syncing option with your Google account is still there, as well).

The RoadSync applications, which also come preinstalled, use the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol to provide push synchronization of your emails, contacts and calendar to any other standard Exchange ActiveSync server.

Typical Eclair web browser

Android is the product of the Web 2.0 era and its browser is excellent. With Eclair, the level of usability has already reached competitive levels.

The user interface is completely minimalistic (it’s the Google way). All you get on the screen is an address bar and +/- zoom buttons. The address bar is placed on top of the page, so scrolling down moves it out of view and the zoom controls auto-hide – that’s essential for web apps because they need to have the whole screen estate to work with.

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Browsing GSMArena.com on the Acer Stream

The Stream’s browser supports three zoom methods – dedicated buttons, double tap and the multi-touch pinch zooming.

Text reflow is enabled – as soon as you set the zoom level, columns of text adjust to fit the screen width. Without text reflow you will either have to zoom out until the text fits (but then it’s too small to read comfortably) or scroll sideways to read each line.

The minimalist UI is quite powerful – hit the menu key and six keys pop up. You can open a new tab, switch tabs, refresh the page, go forward, and open bookmarks. The last button reveals even more options (text copying, find on page, etc.).

The bookmark view shows a thumbnail of the bookmarked pages and you also get a “most visited” list in addition to the history.

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Multiple web pages are supported too • page options and settings

The last castle of the Web that the Android Browser has yet to storm is Flash. It’s only with Froyo that it’s finally available in the core Android system. It’s still not clear whether Acer Stream will get that upgrade.

The Acer Stream relies on the YouTube app to partially compensate for the lack of Flash support. Of course, there are plenty of other video sharing sites and sites that use Flash for completely different purposes, but those are out of Stream’s reach for now.

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A YouTube app partly makes up for the missing Flash support

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