In terms of overall design this is Acer’s best handset yet. Whereas some of the company’s previous models had more bumps and bulges than a fat lady’s knickers, the neoTouch is a much slicker affair. The display is mounted flush with the case and on the front Acer has used touch buttons, rather than conventional ones, in order to preserve the sleek lines. Elsewhere there are just three normal buttons on the edges for standby, camera and volume controls. However, like the company’s previous phones, this one still feels a bit plastiky with the case creaking when you apply any twisting force. The battery cover feels especially flimsy and cheap, and thanks to its glossy black finish it tends to pick up more finger prints than a member of the CSI cast.
As previously mentioned, the neoTouch is among the first handsets on the market to sport Microsoft’s ‘Windows Phone’ operating system. This is a significant improvement on Windows Mobile 6.1 as it introduces a much more finger-friendly Today screen and Start menu, a vastly improved Internet Explorer, and a new on-phone application store. However, it’s still a long way from the user-friendliness of the iPhone OS or even Google’s Android, as it lacks multi-touch support for two-finger zooming and it still has too many fiddly menus and buttons hidden away in a number of the applications and settings menus.
Although other manufacturers like HTC and Samsung are still using shell replacements on their new Windows Phone handsets, Acer’s only real tweak is its customised Today screen. As well as offering large icons to access the phone, contacts book and text messaging apps, this also provides you with six shortcuts to other commonly used applications like the Marketplace, Internet Explorer and YouTube Player. These shortcuts are easily configurable, so you can change them at will.
Unfortunately when it comes to media playback you’re left relying on Microsoft’s rather poor Windows Media application with its fiddly menus and controls. Nevertheless, the S200’s audio playback quality is pretty good, although the supplied stereo headset is rather uncomfortable to wear. The good news is that there’s a standard headphone jack at the top of the handset so you can swap it for your own cans if you like.
For taking snaps Acer has kitted the S200 out with a 5-megapixel camera. This has autofocus and a rudimentary, single LED flash to help out in poorer lighting conditions. The indoor shots tend to be rather noisy unless it’s working under very bright lights, but outdoors it performs reasonably well, although it certainly won’t trouble even a bog standard compact camera in terms of quality.
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