MobileInfocenter
Developer: The Price:
  • About $300 (depends on exchange rate)
The Pros:
  • Good sound quality
  • Nice backlight
  • Flip cover props handheld up at angle
  • Good included software
  • Many recharging options

The Cons:
  • Hard to get in the US
  • Not very compact
  • Added text-entry options are clumsy

PalmInfoCenter.com Ratings*:
Design:
Cost/benefit:
Coolness:
Overall:

*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



Acer s10 Review
By Pepper
7/15/2002


Overview
The Acer s10 is the first handheld to run a Chinese version of the Palm OS. It features MP3 and voice recording capabilities. The s10 has a 160 by 160 monochrome screen, 16 MB of RAM, a 33 MHz processor, and a Memory Stick expansion slot.

This model is available only in China, so if you donít live in China, getting one of these might be a challenge. It has long been rumored that Acer plans to release an American version.

The s10 isn't new; it's been available in China for months.

Design
The Acer s10 isnít exactly small. The casing is slim and long; about the length of the old Palm Pilots, although with far less thickness. To be exact, it's 4.7 by 3 by .5 inches. It weighs 4.9 ounces.

The front side of the casing is metal and the backside is a rather glittery type of blue plastic.

The buttons look a little cheap at first glance, although theyíre very responsive and excellent for playing games. The screen is the standard size with a few extra buttons crammed into the graffiti area.

In your hand the unit feels really light and has a tendency to slip away if you donít use the flip cover. This is a leather flap which grips to the back with two pieces of metal. There is a hole in the cover for the headphones to pass through, and the record button can easily be accessed even with the cover closed. When the cover is opened it props the device up at a nice viewing angle.

The stylus is slightly wider than the m500 series styli, and a bit longer. It weighs less than most metal styli, and includes a reset pin.

Recorder
One thing that makes the s10 unique from most Palms is the voice recording function. The record button is located on the upper left side; it can be pressed in any application and will take you straight to the recording application. Unfortunately, just tapping the button wonít work, you have to hold it down a second for it to start recording. Also, the button has a tendency to get in the way and get pressed accidentally.

The microphone itself is placed on the top of the unit. It seems to be fairly sensitive, but it doesnít pick up much background noise. You can hold it several inches from your face and still get decent sound, although you canít use it very well to record a conversation. During recording and playback a red light will blink at you.

The recording application allows you to customize the preferences to fit your needs. You can customize the recording hotkey so it is pressed to start and stop the recording or so it is held down until youíre done recording. There are also two options for data storage. The default setting is to store the audio in RAM as a .pdb file. When you HotSync the unit, there is a utility to convert those files to .MP3 on the desktop. The other option is to have the program store the file directly to the memory stick as an .MP3 file, very useful when youíre running low on space.

AudioBox
One of the neatest features is the ability to play MP3s. In order to do this you must have a Memory Stick, I recommend one that is at least 64 MB. There is no included software to help install the files so, unless you own a card reader, adding music is a painfully long process.

The AudioBox application has everything you would expect to find on a standard MP3 player: shuffle, repeat, loop, etc. You can rearrange the tracks from the play list and exclude certain tracks. You can set the LCD to turn off at a set time, or do it manually yourself. The entire unit can be put on sleep mode for either 15, 30, or 60 minutes.

The quality of playback was surprisingly good. The internal speakers sound pretty similar to what youíd find in a standard laptop. The sound comes out a bit tinny, but it isnít horrible. The volume is a bit too quiet though. I have gotten yelled at a few times at work for having it too loud, but in a crowded room the only way to hear it is to put it on max and hold it to your ear. The headphones, on the other hand, work wonderfully. The headphone jack is a bit smaller than standard, so if you donít like the included ear buds you can't just swap it for another pair you have lying around. But when you do use the headphones the quality is excellent and the volume is great.

E-book Reader
The Acer includes a simple ebook reader with all the basic features. It isnít great, but it has all the essentials and the toolbar takes up only minimal space. There is an included converter to turn nearly any type of text document into a .pdb file.

Recharging
The s10 has a rechargeable battery with excellent life. If you recharge the battery every night, odds are youíll never get a low battery warning. Despite my nearly constant use of the MP3 player I havenít received a low battery alert yet.

There are three ways to charge the unit. Of course there is the standard way; plug the AC adapter into the cradle and leave the s10 in the cradle. You can also charge the unit solely through the cradle. If you donít plug-in the adapter it will use the USB port to charge itself. The final way is to just plug the adapter straight into the s10ís bottom. The nice thing about having so many charging methods is that I can leave my cradle at work and my AC adapter at home and not have to worry about charging. This also saves a bit of space while traveling.

Data Entry
Because the s10 is the first Palm OS device to use Chinese, they needed a little creativity with data input. Graffiti and the on-screen keyboard werenít abandoned, but a few new methods came along for the ride, the most namely being an attempt at real hand writing recognition.

In order to use Chinese characters a little on-screen window pops up with an area to write the characters. Once that window is up, you can tap an ďAĒ to take you into English mode. Then you can just write the letters, how you normally would, on the screen. Itís a little awkward at first, and some letters just donít work well. But punctuation is so sad it might as well be a joke. The area on-screen where you write the letters canít interpret punctuation at all so youíre forced to use the Graffiti area for everything, right down to spaces. Really, it was a nice little add-on, but it isnít extraordinarily useful.

Miscellaneous
As always, there are a few more little things to mention. First off, the screen. The backlight on it is a light grayish-white and it contrasts very well with the screen. Also, the backlight does NOT invert the pixels. It is amazing how easy this makes the screen to read, and even in dim lighting itís clear to read.

Second, the calculator button . . . or lack there of. Instead of a calculator icon there is an @ symbol which takes you to an about screen. It can still be customized to other buttons, but the icon makes you think of email.

The installation of this unit can be a serious pain if you already have a Palm installed. Also, the cradle isnít very friendly for syncing. You canít just tap the HotSync button, you have to press it firmly and hold it for a second before it will work.

Finally, the Acer includes a few more convenient software programs. There is a nifty little clock program, with a handy little timer, but unfortunately there is no convenient shortcut to toggle it. There is also a backup program to save everything onto the Memory Stick and restore after a hard reset. The last mentionable program is the English to Chinese dictionary. It can be quickly and conveniently toggled to float over any application, or you can enter the main application for more choices.

Conclusion
The Acer s10 is a nice, affordable solution for MP3 playing and voice recording. Although not color or compact, it certainly gives you a lot for the money both in terms of hardware and software. If the idea of a Chinese handheld doesnít scare you and you can get your hands on one of these, it is definitely a great deal.

Article Comments

 (58 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.

Down View Full Comment Thread

Chinese Character Readability

jjsoh @ 7/15/2002 11:24:08 AM #
Interesting review.

Though I hate to bring up the issue of low resolution vs. high resolution, how readable are the Chinese characters on a low res (160x160) screen?

I have a Palm m505 and I attempted to install a program which allowed me to view Korean fonts, and they looked horrible, IMHO. And being that Chinese has more strokes per character in general, I would think it wouldn't be very pleasing to the eye.

Now, having witnessed Japanese fonts on a CLI…, I can see that high resolution would definitely do Chinese, or even Korean for that matter, justice. I cannot say the same for low resolution. Would anyone like to add anything about their first hand experience with CJK on a low res Palm OS screen?


Jim

RE: Chinese Character Readability
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:07:57 PM #
Not too bad!
I have been using Chinese since my PalmPilot Professional. The 12x12 fonts look quite good. Even the 10x12 fonts are readable, especially for simplified Chinese. The traditional Chinese doen't look as good but still useful.

RE: Chinese Character Readability
mikeliu @ 7/15/2002 12:10:47 PM #
In my opinion\experience CJK on low-resolution is borderline unuseable. The characters are horribly pixelated, really very hard to tell what you're reading. I'm sure that this was the main reason behind Sony's development of hi-res in the first place, and accounts for a large part of the lackluster sales of all low-res devices and the Clie's domination of the Palm OS marketplace.

RE: Chinese Character Readability
mikeliu @ 7/15/2002 12:13:06 PM #
Let me amend my previous post. When I said "Clie's domination of the Palm OS marketplace" I meant "Clie's domination of the Palm OS marketplace in Japan."

RE: Chinese Character Readability
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:50:38 PM #
Mmmmm, I use CJKOS and 10x10 traditional Chinese on my TRGpro -- one of the worst screen in PDA world. However, Chinese character is OK for me, at least I use that configuration for more than 15 months and found that's not a problem for me.

wait for OS 5

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:54:58 AM #
Though this is probably one of the nicer Palm OS currently out price/feature-wise, it's probably best to wait for OS 5 at this point. I'm sure the lowest end OS 5 devices will have the same MP3 recording/playback features, plus they'll be hi-res and use SD instead of Memory Stick.

Also, I doubt there is much in the sense of keyboards or other expansions for this. BTW, I thought you could get a version of this that has and English-only ROM.

Anyhow, it's too bad a unit like this never made it to the US. It would have sold well with a nice combination of features and battery life.

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:12:09 PM #
If it's anything like their PC's were, it will suck, big time.
RE: wait for OS 5
mikeliu @ 7/15/2002 12:15:43 PM #
"I'm sure the lowest end OS 5 devices will have the same MP3 recording/playback features, plus they'll be hi-res and use SD instead of Memory Stick."

Heh some of us like our cheaper, non-Digital Right Management impaired (read: use impaired) memory sticks better than SD.

Not to start a flame war or anything. =) Just know that you have your views, and other people have theirs too, what's a benefit to you might not necessarily be a benefit for other people....

(though off hand I'm not even quite sure why so many people here seem so rabidly pro-SD. It too is a proprietary format, just controlled by Matsushita instead of Sony. I susepct it's just because Palm endorses it and not Sony....)

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:22:44 PM #
"If it's anything like their PC's were, it will suck, big time."

I wouldn't be so sure. I do remember reading that their tech support is horrid... but I've never had to use it. I've purchased two computers from Acer in the past: a Pentium 100MHz desktop and a Pentium MMX 133MHz laptop. Both are quite old now (obviously), but they run like a charm (bearing in mind that I use software appropriate to their resources - I'm not running WinXP or anything). And yes, I did use and abuse my systems quite a bit (my wife uses both of them now).

I know that when I would look at PC Magazine or PC World's annual reviews of computing companies, Acer always fell somewhere near the bottom of the list. For the life of me, I could never understand why - my computers always performed wonderfully.

So, who knows, perhaps an Acer handheld might work well. Hopefully any Asian PIC readers out there will chime in with their 2 cents after they've had one for a while.

RE: wait for OS 5
iain.collins @ 7/15/2002 12:25:20 PM #
I posted earlier today on why Memory Sticks are bad for consumers (I've also done this in the past).
http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=3832&MODE=FLAT#56211

I own an NR70V and don't like the fact that it uses a memory stick (I much prefer the SD standard, as my m500 supports).

It's very simple why.

Your statment is not correct - SD is not a propriatory standard in any way comparible to Memory Stick. The standard is not contolled by any one member company (contrary to what you state), rather by the SD Association which anyone with only 4,000 USD (payable to the SDA - not Panasonic nor SanDisk nor Toshiba who pinoneed the standard) can join and vote on all the issues.

Around 17 companies are on the board to and steer it's denstiny, and over 450 member companies vote on issues surrounding the technology and it's future. The SD format has had very broad industry support and participation in it's creation.

This is very much not the case with MS which is entirely controlled and trademarked by Sony and who control the trademark and licensing personally and created the format and shape it's future without industry consultation or discussion. Sony created the Memory Stick format entirely for it's own means, as they have a history of doing. (See my post for why this is bad.)

The confusion some people seem to have around the differences between formats like SD and MS are important and should be understood if we are to avoid total subsurviance to DRM enabled products.


RE: wait for OS 5
mikeliu @ 7/15/2002 12:29:53 PM #
sorry to amend my post again. But control of the SD format is actually jointly held between Matsushita, Toshiba and Sandisk.

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:37:17 PM #
> some of us like our cheaper, non-Digital Right Management
> impaired (read: use impaired) memory sticks better than SD.

Then buy a MultiMedia Card.

> It too is a proprietary format, just controlled by Matsushita instead
> of Sony. I susepct it's just because Palm endorses it and not Sony....

Palm is a member of the body that sets the standards for SD (along with many other companies) and played a major role in SDIO. Call SD proprietary if you want because it is owned by a small group of companies, but I think you'll find that nearly all modern formats/interfaces/etc. are proprietary then. The SD Card Association accepts and even expects industry input on its standards, Sony does not.

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:58:46 PM #
> If it's anything like their PC's were, it will suck, big time.

I mean OS 5 devices in general, not necessarily an Acer one.

RE: wait for OS 5
Beavis @ 7/15/2002 1:04:20 PM #
..."Acer always fell somewhere near the bottom of the list. For the life of me, I could never understand why - my computers always performed wonderfully."

Yours probably slipped thru quality control without someone making sure it would break shortly after purchase.

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 5:26:02 PM #
"Palm is a member of the body that sets the standards for SD (along with many other companies) and played a major role in SDIO. Call SD proprietary if you want because it is owned by a small group of companies, but I think you'll find that nearly all modern formats/interfaces/etc. are proprietary then. The SD Card Association accepts and even expects industry input on its standards, Sony does not. "

Yes Palm is a member, basically iy's like hay palm you are a member now, you could submit whatever changes to the spec you like, but hay you need to go through all the executive commitees in order to change it, and majority of those are from the 3 founding companies.

And about the industry input bull****, that's just research and development, Sony also needs to get input like what do you need from other people in order to make a product that could be used by other human beings. if sony keeps making things that ppl don't need they know better what will happen to themselves,

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 6:26:06 PM #
Palm is an SD Card Association board member, on all the executive committees it wants to be. You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about.
RE: wait for OS 5
mikeliu @ 7/16/2002 2:03:02 AM #
Heh the fact remains though that when you go SD instead of Memory Stick you're paying more per megabyte for a format that doesn't let you use it in as many ways as you want to (ie DRM impaired). With regards to the comment about going MMC, MultiMediaCard is a dead standard I do believe. The biggest card is 64MB if I'm not mistaken, and substantially slower than both MS and SD.

Even for people who don't care about practicality vs. idealism, and just want to support the side that they like better, the SD cards are digital right impaired! If those catch on in a big way then things get a lot suckier for all of us. As opposed to if Sony wins, we all end up with....what?...uhh another 3.5 inch floppy drive?

I'm just not quite sure what drives most of you SD card cheerleaders, besides the belief that Palm can do no wrong and that Sony is the devil.......so yeah, to bring this back on topic, SD wouldn't be considred an advantage to a lot of people vs. MS.....

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 2:20:41 AM #
Just a quick note, I have a 128MB MultiMedia Card, and that's the current max.
RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 3:02:04 AM #
LoL if you people are so concerned about proprietary stuff, you might as well switch to EPOC, because EPOC is controlled by a group of companies (so according to your definition that's a standard no proprietary OS) unlike Palm OS, palmsource has complete control over so Palm OS is proprietary.

Talk about people with double standard.

RE: wait for OS 5
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 10:23:42 AM #
> SD cards are digital right impaired!

There is nothing impairing about SDMI support on an SD card in and of itself. If you don't want to use SDMI content, don't. If you don't like the way a device handles/requires SDMI, don't buy it. I don't plan to. The fact that SD cards support SDMI, doesn't prevent you from using the card however you want. Sony is a huge supporter of SDMI, so your point is pretty lost here. As far as I know, all of the major card formats (MMC and CF included) have plans to, if they aren't already, support SDMI content. Does Sony pay you to post their FUD here?

Not only in China, but at Pan Asia, & Europe

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:42:24 AM #
The selling area is not only at China, but also pan Asia & Europe,
and the OS language version is Trandictional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English version.

The great function in Chinese version is the dictionaly (both Chinese to English and English to Chinese), you can easy to launch the dictionary under the e-book reader by tap the hot button on the Graffiti area or touch the english vocabulary in the text by stylus for more then 1 second, then the dictionary will be launched automatically, this feather can be customized by other application such as e-mail or web browser that some 3rd party software vender in Taiwan had implemented for s10.

RE: Not only in China, but at Pan Asia, & Europe
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 2:57:01 PM #
Doesn't sound like the Chinese to English dictionary works all that great.
RE: Not only in China, but at Pan Asia, & Europe
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/6/2002 7:14:45 PM #
No need to be nasty.
RE: Not only in China, but at Pan Asia, & Europe
oulan @ 10/31/2002 5:23:05 PM #
Where can I buy an Acer s10 (simplified chinese version) in the Netherlands?

how much does it cost in chinese dollars?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:25:26 PM #
how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
ouch!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:26:27 PM #
too expensive!
RE: how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 2:17:18 PM #
The stree price for Traditional Chinese version in Taiwan is around NT$8000 or US$240.
RE: how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 9:13:53 PM #
About 2900 Chinese Yuan.
RE: how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 9:48:04 PM #
>>too expensive?

What is the ideal price in your mind?
NT.8000 is low enough to beat all the black and white
PalmOS device in the market.

RE: how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 9:14:51 AM #
In China there's actually a Palm OS compatible unit that doesn't come with Palm OS to save on the license fees. It comes with instructions on how to flash your own Palm OS ROM into the unit.

RE: how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 12:04:58 PM #
>In China there's actually a Palm OS compatible unit
>that doesn't come with Palm OS to save on the
>license fees. It comes with instructions on how to
>flash your own Palm OS ROM into the unit.

Yeah, so what?
It is illegal after all.

RE: how much does it cost in chinese dollars?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 12:26:39 PM #
what's the topic of this? how much is what? I was wondering if ROM flashing is possible, I have a Palm with Chinese CE, but I prefer it in English, what do I do? It was given to me :(

Better Mp3 than Sony

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:55:36 PM #
"You can REARRANGE the tracks from the play list and exclude certain tracks."

Sounds better than player software that Sony made, what reason could they possibly have for not making the playlist rearrangeable?

RE: Better Mp3 than Sony
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 10:46:03 AM #
Can sony clies run the audio box software?? if so... where do u get it?

Chinese input?

digilaw @ 7/15/2002 2:14:35 PM #
Ed, I assume that you are not literate in Chinese :). However, the big question is how is the Chinese input performance? Does it accept both simplified and traditional? Cursive or "grass hand"? Or does it use pinyin? Can anyone who has one of these and is literate in Chinese shed some light on this?

RE: Chinese input?
matika @ 7/15/2002 10:12:25 PM #
Here is the Chinse input that s10 series provide.

Simpledfied Chinese version-
1.Full-screen Chinese character handwriting recognition.
2.Pin-yin input

Traditional Chinese version-
1.Full-screen Chinese character handwriting recognition.
2.Phonetic input
3.chingji

Regards

Matika

RE: Chinese input?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/16/2002 8:32:10 AM #
How is the Chinese recognition? I've used a system for PalmOS before, and it could be pretty hit-or-miss. I think I would probably end up using the pinyin for most tasks.

Also, when entering text in pinyin, will it smart-revise text like the MS-Pinyin in Win2K, or do you have to pick from a set of characters and be very careful?

Thomas Wilburn

RE: Chinese input?
seadino @ 7/16/2002 11:54:34 AM #
I use the software provided by palmaster, and I think it's quite good. Recognises my writing most of the time. It came with my Palm when I purchased it in Asia. I'm not too sure how good its simplified text recognition is, but it should be just as good. I think you can check out their website http://www.palmaster.com.tw

flip cover?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 2:15:52 PM #
A picture of the flip cover would be nice.
RE: flip cover?
matika @ 7/15/2002 10:07:05 PM #
Top View Full Comment Thread
Achtung! Only the first 50 comments are displayed within the article.
    Click here for the full story discussion page...

Account

Register Register | Login Log in
user:
pass: