TAIPEI: ACER TOOK THE WRAPS OFF its first wearable device, the Acer Liquid Leap, at the Computex computer conference in Taiwan this week and we took a closer look at the firm's first foray into fitness tracking.
Acer unveiled the Liquid Leap on stage at a press event in New York last month along with a slew of convertible laptops and tablets, but we never got to see it up close. At Computex, however, Acer gave us detailed specifications and the opportunity to play with working models.
Design and display
Acer is touting the device as the "smallest touch device ever". The Liquid Leap has a 1in touchscreen which sits inside a rubber wristband with a simple double pin clasp. It feels very light and in our tests it was reasonably comfortable and less noticeable on the wrist than the much-heavier Samsung Gear Fit.
Acer's first wearable device will be priced at less than €100, making it a bit of a bargain compared to rival Samsung or Sony fitness devices at around half the price. But for that low price, it's not the most premium looking or feeling fitness tracker out there. The rubber wrist band is very basic with a double pin clasp and the LCD screen is smaller, one colour and of much lower-quality than the screen on the Gear Fit. Though we could make out what the icons on the screen represented, it was quite pixilated and thus not as easy to understand as we would have liked.
The wristband doesn't feel cheap, but the Acer Liquid Leap's watch face lets it down due to its very simple aesthetic. It is touch activated, however, meaning that there are no physical buttons and thus making the Liquid Leap look very minimalist and sleek in appearance. But the chiefly rubber and plastic construction means it will never look as premium in comparison to more expensive smartwatches.
The Acer Liquid Leap is also IPX7 certified, meaning it is water resistant, though we are unsure as yet to what depth. It will come in an array of colours - Moonstone White, Mineral Black, Aquamarine, Fragrant Pink, and Vivid Orange - so users will be able to customise the device if they get bored with its look.
In our initial tests, the Acer Liquid Leap fared rather well. It was responsive to touch commands once we accessed the main menu, however getting to this point wasn't as simple as we'd hoped. The smart device is "always on", so it required only a quick tap to activate the display and show the time and date. However a long press on the screen is required to access the main menu carousel. This wasn't as smooth as we'd have liked and took a few attempts to get used to.
Working the same way as most smartwatches presently on the market, the various features of the Liquid Leap are accessed by scrolling through the menu with a finger swipe left or right.
Acer claims that the Liquid Leap will last between five to seven days on one charge, which will make it fare much better than Samsung's Gear Fit, which we found lasted for a maximum of around four days in everyday use, though this is something we'll have to test in a full review.
The Acer Liquid Leap is a touchscreen smartwatch band with fitness tracking, phone and SMS notification technology as well as wireless music control. As with most smart wearable devices, the Leap tracks users' fitness including steps, running distance, calories burned, and sleeping cycle. Acer said that the Liquid Leap will act as an "always on" 24/7 device with incoming call and SMS notification "so users will never miss a call".
The music control function lets users access the music library on their smartphone, and play, pause and switch to previous or next songs, while a built-in accellerometer counts steps and walk or running distances. We were unable to test how accurate these functions were in the short hands-on time we had with the Lqid Leap.
Acer Liquid Jade
The Liquid Leap will launch alongside Acer's Liquid Jade - a very slim Android smartphone measuring just 6.8mm at its thinnest point with a curved design and a 5in IPS HD Gorilla Glass 3 display. Running Android 4.4 Kitkat, the Liquid Jade also boasts a 13MP rear-facing camera. It will be available at the bargain price of €79, Acer said.
Acer said that the Liquid Leap will work only with the Liquid Jade at first, as it will come bundled with the smartphone when it hits the shelves. But as it's connected over Bluetooth 4.0, a representative told us that it will work with any Android Kitkat 4.4 smartphone from September.
Acer will launch the Liquid Leap and Liquid Jade within two to three months. µ