Acer M900 Review

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Introduction and Design

Introduction:


One of the major laptop manufacturers, Acer, entered the cell phone market with quite a canny move – taking over a company that already has enough experience in the field, namely Eten.

The manufacturer introduced the Tempo lineup back at MWC 2009 that currently comprises a total of four Windows Mobile smartphones. Three of them utilize a new interface, called Acer Shell, made by the company itself. In this review we are about to take a closer look at the Acer M900. It´s a high-end, business oriented device that sports QWERTY keyboard, 5-megapixel camera, 3.8-inch display and a function that´s quite rare to see on cell phones – fingerprint reader protection. The sensor itself is clearly visible below the display, right between the button that starts the GPS and the key that gets you back to the home screen. Well, its look somewhat spoils the modern design of the phone, but is otherwise handy and you won´t have a problem using it even while holding the Acer M900 in one hand. We will tell you more about it later in this review, now let´s get down to the other elements of the design.

Design:

With its 6.63 oz. (188 gr.), an honorable place in the heavyweight category is certainly well earned for the M900 and the phone is definitely not comfy to carry around in your pocket. Thankfully, a leather case comes in the box. The handset display measures 3.8 inches, comes with resolution of 480x800 pixels and utilizes resistive technology (more about the different screen technologies can be found here). Unfortunately, it´s a bad performer in direct sunlight, because intense light turns it into a flawless, totally useable mirror, plus, it just loves fingerprints.





You can compare the Acer M900 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The microSD slot and a three-way rocker wheel to control volume are on the left hand side. We really like the volume rocker, because turning sound up and down during talks feels easy. On the right hand side of the phone you have a compartment for the telescopic stylus, camera shutter, restart button, voice command and power on/off keys - we have to say we didn’t have any problems with any of them.



The slider is easy to open or close. Most keyboard buttons are large and have enough travel. Still, we happen to have a gripe or two. The “space” button is located way too close to the edge, which makes it unhandy and you have to press the “Fn” button every time you need to enter commas or full-stops. As a whole, the keyboard is below par when compared to the best we have used (the HTC Touch Pro2, T-Mobile G1, Nokia E75), but still, it’s usable for texting.




Acer M900 360 Degrees View:




Acer Shell, functionality and fingerprint recognition:

The Acer M900 utilizes Acer Shell interface that makes Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional easier, better looking and more user friendly. We have already examined it in details in our review of the Acer X960 and the version here doesn’t bring along any changes or novelties. The level of personalization neither penetrates the operating system as profoundly as TouchWiz 2.0 on the Samsung OmniaPRO B7610, nor is it as showy as TouchFLO 3D on both the HTC Touch Pro2 and Diamond2. But it´s certainly welcome. The most interesting part of Acer Shell is the 3D office that visualizes an office room on your screen, where you have a desk, window and shelves. There are different objects placed around that are actually application shortcuts. The cool thing about them is they can be easily rearranged or removed to your taste by keeping a finger pressed against the screen.




A menu, consisting of 8 icons appears onopening the keyboard and they are used for creating different types of messages, entering calendar events or searching. Unfortunately, the function that is assigned to each icon is fixed and cannot be customized.

As a whole, Acer Shell does away with certain shortcomings of the standard Windows Mobile 6.1 interface, but we still think there´s a lot of room for improvement – just take a look at TouchWiz 2.0 on the Samsung OmniaPRO B7610.

Working with Office 2003 and 2007 is not a problem at all even with large files. The phone opens any Word, Excel or PowerPoint presentation files without a hitch, although PDF support is missing by default, which is a serious drawback in the case of a business oriented device.





When we saw there was only one browser installed, unsurprisingly Internet Explorer, we felt bitter disappointment. It actually changed to satisfaction the minute we started the app, because the Acer M900 comes equipped with version 6 that features full Flash support. Elements on pages optimized for normal computers load and visualize with almost no issues, but the bad thing is the device runs out of memory way too often, so be prepared to see notifications about it frequently. You may disregard them, of course, but the phone will get sluggish and unresponsive. As a whole, Internet Explorer has all the makings for a good browser, but apparently needs more system resources and the Acer M900 just doesn’t have them. Ultimately, you´ll be better off using another browser like Skyfire.



Fingerprint recognition:

The fingerprint sensor on the Acer M900 is a feature that we do not often get to see on cell phones. But what does it actually deliver? In a nutshell, you will be able to lock your phone in such a way, that only you or the person that has your finger on them (creepy, huh? use your imagination) will be able to unlock it. Moreover, you can protect selected files, contacts and other sensitive information in case you need to lend your phone to someone for a while. The good thing is you can set your own password to unlock the M900 in case you get your finger injured.




While setting up the function, you will have to slide your finger against the sensor four times and you won´t have any problems to unlock the phone while on the run, provided the movement is exactly the same. We are totally cool with the function and the way it works and tend to think many business users will love it, especially those who need better security.



Camera:

We are pretty happy to see that the camera interface has been improved alongside of the version on the X960. All icons are larger and handier to press with your bare finger and this is something we quite like. You will be able to fiddle with several color effects, white balance, ISO sensitivity and take a pick among 8 scene presets. The interface takes about 4 seconds to start, while focusing and saving a snapshot take about 2 and 5 seconds respectively. These results make the M900 a decent performer in terms of speed.

We didn’t expect the 5-megapixel camera of the Acer M900 to deliver high quality pictures, because this is a business oriented device that doesn’t lay claims in this department. Having seen the test shots however, we found out the situation was entirely different. The level of details is above average in snapshots taken in natural light, colors look realistic and saturated with only the exposure being slightly underdone. Who would have thought that a business handset would be able to take such nice snapshots indeed? Well, the results aren´t as good in artificial lighting conditions and the flash manages to properly light up objects that are about 1 to 1,5m away. The interesting thing about the camera is that despite the lack of manual macro, focusing is proper in this mode and snapshots come out great even with automatic focusing, so you won´t have to worry about reading that important office paper you have just taken a snapshot of.





Unfortunately, video capture is below par. Resolution of 640x480 pixels looks good in theory, but the situation is actually, quite bad. There are too many artifacts, huge-sized squares and as a whole, the quality is rather low. It´s like watching a low-resolution video on a high-resolution screen. 

Acer M900 sample video with 640x480 pixels resolution

Multimedia:

Well, even people who tend to wear suits daily need some entertainment. The Acer M900 is designed to be a business oriented cell phone above all, but delivers multimedia functionality as well. Compared to other Windows Mobile handsets, the Media Player of the Acer M900 is an apt performer.  MP4/H.264 videos with resolution width of 720 pixels play without a hitch and the handset provides perfect experience even with DivX content. Only Xvid videos won’t play in the integrated player. The sound coming out of the loudspeaker is of good quality, although not nearly loud enough. The boxed pair of earphones pack some punch indeed, although sound turned out to be somewhat muffled.





Performance:

In-call quality is a vital aspect of any cell phone, no matter the class or type. The Acer M900 performs really well in this respect. Voices are loud and clear through the built-in earpiece and you would even have to turn down the volume a bit. The situation is identical on the other end and people you are talking to will be able to hear you without any issues.

Come to stability and speed of the operating system, the Acer M900 performs above the average. Just like any other Windows Mobile device, certain delay is evident on starting applications, although this is not a real issue in this case, plus you can easily get used to it. We didn’t encounter any major hold-ups or significant lagging when opening apps from the Acer Shell interface. Our only gripe is about the accelerometer than gets inadequate at times, especially when turning your phone sideways to landscape position. Definitely unpleasant and annoying.

Conclusion:

We won´t beat about the bush. The Acer M900 is not a good Windows Mobile, business oriented device. Yes, it sports a function that is quite rare to find on cell phones – fingerprint sensor, it performs well during talks, features handy interface and organizer function, its browser has full flash support and the camera is not bad at all. Yet, the handset is plagued by one major drawback outweighs all other aspects – a low amount of memory. The lack of enough free RAM renders the browser virtually unusable and makes the multitasking function, simply put, downright inferior, especially with several applications running in the background. And finally, the accelerometer is annoyingly inadequate.

All told, we do not consider the Acer M900 a good investment, mainly because of the bad hardware implementation (not enough memory available for multitasking). The better performing HTC Touch Pro2 is in the same price category, comes free of irritating issues and we would definitely prefer it to the M900.

Acer M900 Video Review:





Pros

  • Fingerprint protection
  • Very good in-call quality
  • Internet Explorer 6 that fully supports Flash
  • Good multimedia capabilities for a business oriented device

Cons

  • Way too low amount of memory available to application
  • Inadequate accelerometer
  • Screens becomes unusable in direct sunlight
  • Too hefty

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

User Rating:

9.1
3 Reviews

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