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The Acer is running Windows Mobile 5, which means that it makes better use of the native resolution than previous versions of the OS. There’s a rather poorly drawn icon that when pressed rotates the screen from portrait to landscape mode. However this proves to be rather sluggish. One of the advantages of Windows Mobile 5 is that it uses the same code for both Windows Smartphones and Windows powered Pocket PCs so applications can in theory be used on both . The soft keys at the bottom of each corner of the screen are in the same place as they would be on a Windows Smartphone. However, unlike on a phone there are no hard keys that tally up so you can’t use it one handed without a stylus, which is a shame.
Specs wise the Acer is just reasonable. The processor in the review unit is a Samsung Arm-900 S3C2440 running at 400MHz, which is more than enough for basic tasks. A 300MHz version of the PDA, the n300 is also available and costs less. However, the Acer isn’t as snappy as the superb Dell X50v reviewed here, which features a hefty 620MHz CPU. If you want to use Skype then you’ll need the 400MHz version, as Skype requires a minimum CPU speed of 312MHz.
The Acer also doesn’t feature the fancy 16MB of dedicated graphics memory that Dell’s Axim range does. This does have an impact on video playback performance. I installed the excellent, Core Media Player application (much better than the supplied Pocket TV app) enabling me to play DivX content natively, without having to transcode. Though my sample movie file played there were noticeable dropped frames. A Palm LifeDrive, which I had to hand also proved better playing video. However, with a low bit rate MPEG file, it had no problems, whatsoever. Though the Acer is capable of video playback then, it isn’t an ideal partner.
In terms of memory complement the Acer has 64MB of flash RAM, and 128MB of ROM. The flash RAM is a great inclusion as it means that you won’t lose your data when the power runs dry.
Connectivity is pretty good, with both Bluetooth 1.2 and 802.11b Wi-Fi. Once I’d entered the correct settings, getting online through the office Wireless access point was straightforward. I did try to get online via my 3G phone too and though pairing it via Bluetooth was easy I needed the correct dial-up settings to connect and I didn’t have them to hand. Conversely, with a Palm LifeDrive all the settings were built-in and were easy to set up via a wizard. Extra touches like this by Acer would have been welcome.