Acer also throws in a number of fun extras. To start, there's an app called urFooz that allows you to create an avatar that you can share on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites. Sure, it's not an essential tool, but it's a nice diversion and another way to personalize your device. More useful are the Spinlets, Media Server, and NemoPlayer apps, which all enhance the multimedia capabilities of the smartphone.
Spinlets is a free music service that lets you browse and stream tunes, share them via Facebook or e-mail, and access artist's Web sites all from one place. It's certainly a nice way to discover new music. Meanwhile, NemoPlayer is an alternative to the standard Android media player and one that we actually preferred since it offers a better interface and a single hub for all multimedia files, so you no longer have to launch separate apps for music, video, and photos. You can also easily share those files with another PC over a Wi-Fi connection via the Media Server app. With these additional capabilities, we'd certainly say the Liquid is one of the more multimedia-friendly Android devices on the market right now.
The only downer is that the smartphone's 5-megapixel camera isn't quite up to snuff. First, there's no flash, and the camera app can be a bit sluggish. Not just in terms of menu interaction but with image captures as well. The capture button is also placed on the downward slope of the phone's tapered edge, which makes it rather difficult to press. As a result, we had a hard time getting sharp picture quality. Photos looked soft, and there wasn't much richness to the colors. You can geotag photos as well as add effects and record VGA video at up to 20 frames per second, but all in all, it was a rather disappointing experience. The Liquid has 256MB RAM/512MB ROM with an expansion slot that can support cards up to 32GB.
The Liquid is a quad-band GSM world phone with support for 850/1,900/2,100MHz HSPDA bands, so you will get 3G over AT&T's network. As we mentioned earlier, contact information can be merged from various sources into a master list, where you can also access the phone dialer, call log, and favorites list. You get a speakerphone, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging but two notable omissions are voice dialing and smart dialing. Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi are all part of the package, as well as an HTML Android Webkit browser, but there's no Flash support.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Acer Liquid in New York using AT&T service and call quality was admirable. Audio was clear on our side with very little background noise so we had no problem hearing our callers or using an airline's voice automated response system. Callers also reported good results quality. They didn't complain of any voice distortion or weird noises. Speakerphone quality was slightly bit on the tinny side, and we heard a some background hissing during lulls in the conversation, but these issues weren't bad enough to warrant ending the conversation. We paired the phone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
AT&T's 3G coverage was fairly consistent in Manhattan and provided good speeds. CNET's full site loaded in 22 seconds, while CNN and ESPN's mobile sites came up in 7 seconds and 9 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos took a few seconds to load, and though the playback was continuous, the image quality was quite murky. An MP4 movie trailer from our personal library fared much better with smoother transitions between scenes. Using the 3.5mm headphone jack, we plugged in our Bose On-Ear headphones, and we have to say that the Liquid's audio quality was subpar compared with the more recent smartphones we've tested. Songs sounded a bit one-dimensional with minimal bass, so we definitely wouldn't ditch our MP3 player for this.
The Liquid is equipped with a 768MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and most times, it kept the smartphone humming along and running multiple applications without much problem. However, there were definitely some iffy moments where the Liquid took its sweet time to launch an app. In fact, we had two instances where it was taking so long to open an app that we were afraid the phone had frozen. Eventually, it sprung back to life, but definitely not what we call a high-performance machine.
The Acer Liquid comes with a 1,350mAh lithium-ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and up to 16 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results.