Acer neoTouch S200 Mobile Phone

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For the Indian audience, Acer is a fairly new entrant into the mobile segment. Although this is not their first handset to make it here it’s one of three that launched at the same time with the Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional edition OS. While the neoTouch makes a great first impression allow me to elaborate on my experience with the handset after delving into the devices features.

Form Factor
Like I said, the neoTouch makes a great first impression with its sleek chrome and black lines and large 3.8-inch touchscreen display. It incorporates a 3.5mm handsfree port at the top (well placed) a mini USB/Charging port at the bottom, volume/zoom keys on one side followed by the camera key and a screen lock button on the other side. The S200 uses touch sensitive keys, located below the screen to take and end calls or access menus that can be customized to the two open keys. The 5 megapixel camera with its LED flash is at the rear of course. One turn off is the hot swap microSD card slot that’s placed under the rear panel and removing that panel is a real pain in the a... fingers.

There’s nothing in the looks department that doesn’t make you want to rush out and buy this handset if you’re into the superficial stuff but read on to find out if it’s really worth the money when it comes to its features functionality.

Features and Performance
Like some of the other manufacturers Acer has designed a home page for the WinMob 6.5 OS. It’s not as complicated as some of the others in fact it’s childishly simple. You have the option of selecting nine shortcuts to assign to the home screen. With a single press you can delete or add these links. The UI on the whole is typical of Windows. Version 6.5 doesn’t offer too much except it makes accessing some of the menu systems a little more touch friendly but you’ll still require the stylus to make changes to intricate settings. However, thanks to the large and quite responsive touchscreen you’ll be removing the stylus very infrequently if ever. The virtual QWERTY keypad in both portrait and landscape are well laid out and very easy to use.

The UI is only this accessible because of the large display and thanks to the Snapdragon QSD8250 1GHz processor on board, it’s smooth and lag-free.

In my experience, handsets that have 3.5mm handsfree ports usually (not always) have pretty decent audio capabilities. The neoTouch is one of the exceptions to this rule though. The Windows Mobile Media player is not my favorite simply because it lacks any sort of customization. Some companies add a customization option from their end or even offer an additional player to better your audio experience. Acer hasn’t, so needless to say the neoTouch didn’t fare too well in this department. The volume level, at its peak, was way too low to enjoy music playback in this noisy city. The quality was just average through the bundled handsfree but not much better through my test pair of earphones either.

The FM radio was ok in most places but again the volume was an issue. It took its time auto scanning the frequencies but it found all and a few extra channels with just static. The games are still very mundane with no additions.

Video will need to be converted to MPEG4 or 3GP for playback as it doesn’t respond to other formats. Playback on the large screen makes for very easy viewing that’s comfortable on the eyes.

The S200 is social network ready with Facebook, eBlogger, Flickr, MSN Messenger and YouTube access which is all pretty standard with most handsets these days. A Twitter app is not present though you can try and download one via the Windows market place that I was only able to access via EDGE as it refused to sign me into my Windows Live via Wi-Fi. Ridiculous! Bluetooth v2.1 and USB 2.0 are other connectivity options. Windows 6.5 comes with the new IE browser which is a step up from the older version I have to agree. Microsoft's My Phone is their built in service that allows you send a backup of your data to an online server and then there’s Active Sync for back up to your PC.

GPS is also a built-in feature but without the use of GPS mapping software it’s kind of redundant. Especially when you’re shelling out this much for a handset. You’ll have to cope with Google Maps which is a great alternative but won’t work out too well if you’re out of EDGE reception range. Downloading and setting up emails on a Windows mobile handset is always easy for either IMAP, POP or Microsoft Exchange.
Misc. Features
It covers all the basics with an Agenda application that’s the same as the Calendar app which is also present (????), Tasks, Notepad, Alarm etc. And we can’t forget the host of Microsoft Office Apps for mobile that allows you to read and write documents.

The 5 megapixel camera with its singular LED flash is quite average to be honest. Images often appear too dark even if there’s plenty of light present. It features ISO selection up to 1600, Anti-flicker, White Balance and a few color settings.

The battery is not one of the handset’s better features. With minimal usage I didn’t have to charge the handset for over a day and a half. The problem is with Wi-Fi usage or using the internet for any purpose even on GPRS, the battery life just dwindles away to nothing way too soon. Talk time is another reason, on an average I got no more than 3 hours and change of non stop talk time on a single charge. Very unimpressive.

The Bottom Line
For a handset that costs as much as a 12MP camera phone or the iPhone for that matter at Rs. 32,500 I can’t recommend it as a good buy. Aside from the brilliant responsive display and good looks everything else about the handset is just plain average. It doesn’t even come with any GPS software and Windows Mobile 6.5, as good as it may be in comparison to previous versions, is still not yet designed to be completely finger friendly for touch phone users. From what it offers in the media section to its overall functionality, in my opinion, it offers nothing grand enough to justify the high price.

Published Date: Dec 18, 2009 05:00 pm | Updated Date: Dec 18, 2009 05:00 pm