Acer stream

The Acer Stream has a physical design which makes it look like a quality product.

With separate button controls for video playback, it shows that it's taking a no-nonsense approach to this aspect. And there's some good software on board that provides great added value to Android.

Everything isn't rosy in the garden, though. For example, we feel the user interface is a bit convoluted, and the screen suffers outdoors. The camera, too, though great on paper, did let us down a bit in the real world.

We liked

There is a superior quality to the hardware design of the Acer Stream which puts it very much in the same league as the HTC Desire and the iPhone 4. Acer has not always paid this much attention to hardware design, and the effort here really pays off, although it remains a little too chunky.

The high resolution screen is super when it's in the correct conditions, but in bright sunlight it just doesn't deliver the goods, which is a real pity.

The ability to send content to a larger screen via HDMI is a real plus. You won't use it a lot, but when you do it'll be a great boon.

There's plenty of internal storage at 2GB, and the 8GB microSD card provided gives this a boost.

The Dolby Mobile equaliser makes a real difference to sound output for both music and video.

We disliked

The user interface feels a bit convoluted. We're sure that it wouldn't take too long to get used to, but we wonder whether its almost dual-layer approach isn't a bit more complicated than is really needed.

The camera isn't what it could be. We'd have liked more options, especially a panorama mode, and the 720p shooting was too jerky for our taste. And there's no flash, which is a cardinal sin for a high-end handset like this.

Battery life, as ever, could be better. There's no getting away from the fact that a high-end smartphone like the Acer Stream cries out for a lot of power, and if you use it to its full potential you're likely to need fairly regular access to mains power – although it's a country mile better than the Acer Liquid E.

Verdict

The Stream is the best smartphone we've ever seen from Acer. The hardware is well-designed and there is a lot of good stuff under the hood. But there are also many negatives. No flash for the camera, jerky 720p video recording and no DLNA streaming, along with a disappointing screen that flails in bright sunlight.

None of these problems are insurmountable, and we can't wait to see what wonders Acer might produce if it concentrates on sorting out these niggles.

However, while a decent effort, we can't see why you'd take it over some other handsets on the market at a similar price, so make sure you have a really good play with this somehow before you fork out.