Acer beTouch E200 Mobile Phone

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Acer is trying real hard to fit into the mobile phone segment after hogging the attention of the portable PC consumer. I guess their notion is that if they did well there, they’d have no issues here. Of course that’s not the case as the mobile phone consumer is totally different from the mobile PC consumer and requires more from the mobile as opposed to the laptop. Acer's NeoTouch S200, although a good looking handset, didn’t fare well in my tests and now it’s the Acer beTouch E200 that’s on the chopping block.

Form Factor
The idea of having a standard alphanumeric keypad on a touchscreen handset that doesn’t offer the same kind of functionality as it would on any other handset is a waste of material. The Samsung Ultra Touch is tribute to just this sentiment but in some minor ways that keypad setting was a little better that the E200’s. While the slide is relatively smooth and the keys are well spaced, it’s not easy to use it with the handset except for typing numbers for calling. Using it for typing is painful and a waste of energy as Acer hasn’t made any provisions that allow its independent use. The 3.0-inch touchscreen is clear enough but the five way nav-pad’s center key is a little too small.

A universal mini USB port is located on the side underneath the volume/zoom keys and the camera button is on the opposite side. It’s a very professional looking handset that could suit an executive quite well and although it's overall well designed there’s plenty of room for improvement. For instance, it’s not a slim handset so it could have had a microSD hot swap slot which it doesn’t, meaning you’ll have to remove the battery to get to it. It could also have incorporated a 3.5mm handsfree but instead you’re stuck with a single socket for the charger, handsfree and the USB.

Features and Performance
The E200’s Qualcomm MSM 7225 528 MHz processor just didn’t seem adequate enough to run Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional edition as the OS. The handset was sluggish in most instances and hung quite a few times during use and even calls. Sure I could attribute it to a faulty piece and I am hoping that’s the case, but this was an issue I faced even when the handset was not in use. The virtual keypads are too small to use easily with your fingers. It’s not comfortable to use when both hands aren’t free.

The Acer home screen only allows you to pin nine of your most used apps so they’re easily accessible. Other than that the UI is strictly WinMob 6.5, which is cosmetically a little different from the older versions and still quite reliant on a stylus.

The media capabilities of this handset can be considered adequate. Audio quality was strictly average at best at a very low decibel level. There are no settings available to make any adjustments. The bundled handsfree was also just ok. The E200’s video playback was a little more impressive though as it seemed to play all of my test files including those in FLV and AVI format. It was a bit strange as most WinMob handsets don’t support those codecs. On the down side, thanks to the laggy UI it took over 4 minutes to locate all my media files via Windows Media Player and I hardly had too many to begin with.
In this department the E200 is well equipped. It covers all bases from 3G and Wi-Fi to Bluetooth with A2DP and of course USB 2.0. With any WinMob handset, accessing or downloading your POP, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange emails is never an issue and other than speed, the E200 is no problem either. Social Networking applications include Facebook, Flickr, eBlogger, MSN Messenger and of course access to YouTube and other streaming media.

A Windows Live account will give you access to download content from Windows Mobile Marketplace and back up your data via the My Phone app. These are native to the OS and not extras provided by the manufacturer. The E200 also comes with a GPS antenna but only Google Maps with A-GPS support so you won’t be able to do any hardcore navigating unless you purchase a software.

Misc. Features
It’s got all that you’d expect to find in a regular mobile handset in terms of basic features. Those include apps for scheduling appointments, leaving reminders, alarms, notes etc. Pocket Office for creating and opening MS office files including those in PDF format is also on board.

The handset’s 3.2MP AF camera takes about 3-4 seconds to start up which is average. Features are basic and include White balance settings, ISO up to 800, self timer and a few effects. Image reproduction is fair, but a little too grainy in low light conditions.

Battery Life
I managed to get just a little more than a day and a half of minimal usage from the E200. On an average talk time ran up a score of 3 hours, which is not too bad.

The Bottom Line
The price tag on the beTouch E200 is Rs. 18,900 (MOP). That may not seem like that high a price for a Windows Mobile touchscreen handset but it is for the E200. The handset is not well balanced in its design as a whole. The UI is slow and not very responsive and its feature set works out to be quite average. It’s a business class handset but there are better options you could consider like HTC’s Touch 3G, Viva or even Samsung’s Omnia Pro B7320 (non touchscreen) which also happen to be better priced.

Published Date: Jan 12, 2010 02:25 pm | Updated Date: Jan 12, 2010 02:25 pm