We recently found ourselves in possession of an Acer Stream, the Android phone that, on paper, looks like being a strong contender in this day of super-powered smartphones.
A 3.5″ screen, Android 2.1 onboard, 720p video recording – what more could you need? Let’s find out.
That screen on the left is basically the Stream’s main Home page. From here you sweep up to access the apps or use your eight favourites in the pane at the bottom, press the Notifications bar to open up the tabbed Notifications area, or sweep to the left and right to open Acer’s very nice History and Media areas.
Acer’s History flipper (left) is great. It’s a stacked record of everything you’ve done on your phone – menu windows you’ve opened, apps used, web pages and more – all represented as they appear on your phone. A great way to find a buried menu you’ve just closed. The media panel is also pretty decent, letting you page through your collection of pics & music with ease. And look, the lovely scrolling 3D apps window.
For some bizarre reason, the lock screen widgets are customised by holding down the Home key. Which, on almost every Android phone apart from the Stream, brings up a list of previous apps. But on the Stream, it lets you select which widgets you want to appear on the phone’s lock screen.
Yes, the widgets only show up when the phone’s locked. It’s a mad idea. Interacting with some widgets, like the YouTube one here (right) requires you to separately sweep the screen to access them, adding more user presses to get things done. It is a quite insane user interface.
One thing that is nice about Acer’s bonkers UI is the tabbed Notifications bar. It’s basically Android’s Notifications area TO THE MAXIMUM, sticking loads of the phone’s options into the Notifications field.
It’ll be good for Android power-users, but we suspect the casual phone fan might be completely bewildered by the numerous ways to access… everything from the tiny Notifications bar.
Fortunately, you can turn off all of Acer’s hard work. Discovering this feature, thanks to the help of a reader, was such a joyous moment we’ve deliberately put the same image up twice.
Even when its custom UI has been turned off Acer, has stuck its little spinning icons on the standard Android 2.1 desktop. But we can live with these, as they’re nice.