The Acer M900 is a 3G touchscreen smartphone with built-in camera, computing and more, that runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 software.

Global PC vendor Acer made its first move into the smartphones market at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. The handsets are all courtesy of a company called E-Ten Information Systems that Acer bought last year. The company originally designed GPS devices, which you'll find on nearly all of their smartphones, and expanded into smartphones a few years ago with Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS.

The Acer M900 stands out from the rest of the pack almost immediately with its 3.8in touchscreens, among the biggest we've handled.

The Acer M900 is armed with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that makes it a little bulkier than other smartphones. It's aimed at business users.

The nice thing about the 3.8in screen on the Acer M900 is the sharp picture quality. The resolution is 800x480, which is the same as High Tech Computer (HTC)'s Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2, and better than the 480x320 resolution on the iPhone 3G.

That's a good thing, too, because you need a big screen with good picture quality for the Acer Shell user interface (UI). The M900 has the same software as the Acer F900.

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Acer F900 and M900

The Acer M900 is a 3G touchscreen smartphone with built-in camera, computing and more that runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 software.

Most mobile phone makers that use Microsoft Windows Mobile software develop a UI for easier touchscreen navigation. Windows Mobile still requires too many steps to get your songs, contacts and whatnot.

Acer Shell simplifies navigation by making the home screen a room with a desk and window inside, and each of the objects in the room, a total of nine, will take you directly to content when tapped.

A calendar hanging on the wall, for example, displays the date and time, and will take you to your appointment book. A rolodex icon will convey you to contacts. One nifty aspect of the software is that the picture of the last contact you called will be displayed on the rolodex icon on your home screen. A picture frame icon in the room will take you to the camera and your pictures, and it too will display the last picture you viewed.

A window in the back of the home screen room shows the day's weather. The sun was shining in the little window on the day we tested the Acer M900. Nice.

Tap the window and you're transported to a view of the earth, which rotates when you tap on icons of five different places you've pre-set for weather information. The same globe is used for time. You can pre-set five different cities and the phone will keep track of the time. The globe on the screen rotates to the location of the city you've tapped, too.

There are other icons.

An icon of a mobile phone on the desk goes to the phone function of the Acer M900, and missed calls will be shown as a number on its face. Similarly, a letter icon is for email and a number on the face of the letter lets you know how many emails are waiting for you to read. A message on the desk is for SMSs.

The color of the home screen is mostly shades of blue, from very light to very dark. Other colours pop in when photos are in the picture frame or on the rolodex, or a CD cover is on the music player.

We had a lot of fun playing with the UI and the Acer M900's touchscreen worked fast. The only drawback was once we got into Windows Mobile, the tasks became more tedious.

For people who already use and like the Windows Mobile 6.1 UI, the Acer M900 can be switched to that instead, or a quick menu that resembles the iPhone's home screen.

The M900 has a qwerty keypad, which slides out from under the screen. It's large, with keys that are raised enough to feel easily for thumb-typing. Each time you tap them they click to let you know you've entered a letter.

Overall, the typing experience on the Acer M900 is good and we encountered few errors or problems that can be caused by keyboards with buttons that are too small or not easy to identify without looking. It's a nice keypad, but still not as good as the keypad on HTC's Touch Pro2.

The Acer M900 does surpass the Touch Pro2 in security, however.

Below the screen on the face of the Acer M900 is a small fingerprint identification tab, the principal way you sign into the phone and access information. Cool. Even better is that same tab can be used for navigation on the handset if you get tired of the touchscreen.

The Acer M900 also has a 5Mp camera onboard, with a built-in flash.

The Acer M900 has a lot of other features, including connectivity through Wi-Fi or HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and more that you can find on Acer's website.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

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Acer F900 and M900

Acer M900: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Samsung S3C 6410 mobile processor 533MHz
  • 3.8in 480x800 pixel TFT Touchscreen
  • GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
  • microSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP, MiniUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Built-in GPS receiver (SiRFstar III)
  • 5Mp, 2592?1944 pixels, autofocus, flash, video, camera
  • secondary VGA videocall camera
  • Lithium-ion
  • 119x62x17.1mm
  • 188g
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
  • Samsung S3C 6410 mobile processor 533MHz
  • 3.8in 480x800 pixel TFT Touchscreen
  • GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
  • microSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP, MiniUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Built-in GPS receiver (SiRFstar III)
  • 5Mp, 2592?1944 pixels, autofocus, flash, video, camera
  • secondary VGA videocall camera
  • Lithium-ion
  • 119x62x17.1mm
  • 188g

OUR VERDICT

A solid business phone with a decent qwerty keyboard and that great 3.8in touchscreen, we like the Acer M900. Windows Mobile, we're not so keen on.

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