Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband

Is Acer's first wearable one giant leap for mankind or a half-hearted lift-off? We reveal the results of our brief acquaintance with it

Announced at Computex 2014, Acer's first foray into the wearable arena looked promisingly petite, but what else is known about it?

During our time at the Acer booth, the biggest crowd congregated around the Liquid Leap booth, proving that the Leap was a step in that right direction of wearables. But more importantly, does it bring anything new to the fast-filling up wardrobe of wearable tech? Does this activity tracker deserve a spot on our wrists?

As there can only be one, unless you don't mind looking a little silly with multiple smartbands on your wrists, we focused our attention on this slim timepiece.

First things first

The Liquid Leap comes bundled with the Liquid Jade - Acer's brand new 5in smartphone. Acer claims that it's the smallest smartphone in terms of volume. We're not sure how true that is but during the brief time in our hands, it sure was crazy light and slim at just 7.5mm in width.

Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband

While Acer emphasised that the curves of the design give great ergonomics, it's more of an oversell as the Liquid Jade is hardly a wrist-breaker in the first place.

READ MORE: HTC plans a "disruptive" tablet and an Android smartwatch

The 13MP camera's also worth a mention, boasting an aperture of F1.8 to let in more light and take better pictures in low light. Unfortunately, the show floor was lit up like a police raid so we couldn't put that theory to the test.

Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband

The phone's largely plastic but Acer executives were quick to point out that material options could pop up in the form of a number of different backs although nothing's been finalised yet. Colour options match the Liquid Leap, with these three to choose from, and the usual black and white.

Tell us about the smartband already!

At first glance, it most resembles the Jawbone Up with its brighter colour options and build, but it pops on a rectangular display which then makes it look like the fun cooler cousin of the Galaxy Gear Fit. Tap and hold the screen to jolt it from its time-telling mode and swipe left to bring up the apps menu, or right for a quick glance at your activity rates including steps taken, distance travelled, time spent on the move, and calories burned.

In the app menu mode, it displays up to three icons on each of its two pages, with the three most significant taking up its first page - activity tracking, sleep tracking and notifications.

READ MORE: Jawbone Up 24 review

Keeping track

Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband - Keeping track 2Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband - Keeping track 3

Linked to the uncreatively-named Leap Manager app, users are able to set goals for themselves in the activity areas mentioned above. There is a catch to activity tracking on the Leap - you'll have to reset the smartband manually everyday if you want to keep an eye on your daily rates via the Leap, otherwise all that data will just accumulate.

However, we were told via the app, the data captured is managed and sorted accordingly. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see if it could actually deliver due to connection issues within the show floors.

More after the break...

As for sleep tracking (the moon icon), it just measures how long you've slept for. And the worst thing about it is that you have to manually activate the sleep monitoring. Which means before you doze off, you'll need to hit the start button and tap it again when you're awake. Not much different from keeping an eye on the clock and doing your own calculations.

Wrist on with the Acer Liquid Leap smartband

Notifications are largely a passive feature, informing you when you receive messages and phone calls, and letting you reject the latter. You can also control your music - play, pause, and next track. But that’s it. No, seriously, that’s it. You don't get volume control.

Also, the display goes to sleep really quickly if you don’t keep your finger actively swiping, six seconds give or take (yes, we counted). It was a pain trying to take photos with the display switching off so quickly, but it’s more than enough time for a quick time check. You can't tweak the settings too, so you’ll just have to live with it.

Is there no redemption for the Liquid Leap?

There are a few things we appreciated about the Liquid Leap. For instance, its battery life is rated significantly longer than the other wearables with displays. The Samsung Gear Fit does about five days, while the Nike + SE FuelBand does about four. The Liquid Leap can survive without a charge for seven days according to the execs. But until we've actually abused the Leap through such conditions, we'll have to take Acer's claims at face value.

READ MORE: Samsung Gear 2 review

The way it attaches takes more than a few cues from the FitBit Force. And it’s secure enough as the entire device is seriously light. There’s no official weight but having tried it on, we can say it barely weighs anything. You won’t even notice that you have it on. It’s slim enough for women to pull off, unlike other chunkier devices.

If there’s one thing going for it, it would be design. It could easily pass for a cool bracelet that you can take swimming because it’s IP7 certified. That means you can take it to a depth of 1m underwater for 30 minutes, if you can hold your breath that long. You also get the option of flipping the display 180 degrees, although reading it in landscape mode is already a little awkward, so we would have appreciated the option of taking it portrait.

Final thoughts

In the Liquid Leap’s case, less is definitely not more in terms of features. But we like the build and it’s a beautiful step in the wearables’ direction. But it’s a first step and nothing more than that. It would be perfect for people who care more about fashion than functionality (women).

We’d take it if the bundle is priced affordably but as usual, no official pricing, just that it’s mid-range. Stay tuned for news as and when we get them.

READ MORE: All the biggest news from Computex 2014

 

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