This smart band is less than £80 so it's not quite the cheapest option but it handles notifications from your smartphone on its 0.9-inch screen, as well as fitness tracking charted in the accompanying app. It works with iPhone and Android, is waterproof and will last most people a whole week between charges.
But it's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, a multi-tasker doing nothing particularly well. Starting with design…
Acer Liquid Leap: Design and build
Not quite as striking as the Sony SmartBand Talk but not quite inconspicuous either, the Liquid Leap falls somewhere in the middle. The textured (hypoallergenic) band and faux metal details do help to give it some character and it's really light on the wrist, just 20g in fact.
We've seen lots of images of brightly coloured Leaps on the internet but only the black and white models are listed on Acer's website and we tested the slightly medical-looking 'Moonstone White' version.
We're not really complaining about how it looks though - it's no Jawbone UP3 but, let's face it, our fitness tracker is hidden under our sleeves most of the time. A slight annoyance is how it doesn't sit flush on the wrist like the SmartBand Talk, which means that when you move your wrist around it can get in the way. Nowhere near as uncomfortable as the Microsoft Band but enough to notice it. That said, if you've been wearing it all day, you might have to peek down to check you still have it on.
With an IPX7 waterproof rating, it is practical. The rating means it can last up to 30 minutes submerged in up to 1m of water so the Leap will be fine in the rain, in the shower and for splashes when cooking or washing hands. It's not designed as a swimming companion like the Misfit Shine, though.
Acer Liquid Leap: Screen
The biggest design decision from Acer was to include the 0.9-inch, 128 x 32, monochrome OLED screen. It's easy to read and provides that instant feedback on steps, distance and calories that screen-less bands can't.
Overall, with the bonus of checking the time and notifications, we reckon Acer made the right choice to include it, we just wish it wasn't so small with big bezels around it. There's a lot of wasted space that could have been taken up by a bigger OLED or E-Ink screen like the Sony rival. Another niggle - it turns on with a double tap but this doesn't always work. Quite frustrating, as it won't automatically turn the screen as you turn or flick your wrist to check the time.
Acer Liquid Leap: Activity tracking and app
As an activity tracker, the Leap does the basics well but no more than that. Step counting, distance, time spent active, calories burned and time spent sleeping are all measured and accessible on the Leap itself. Well, for sleep you have to tell it you're going to sleep.
In the time we spent with it, the Leap was reliably accurate for measuring the distance we'd walked and steps taken each day. It was always about 0.2 miles more than the Moves app on our Android phone (possibly on account of us moving around when our phone is on our desk).
In the accompanying Leap Manager app, there are easy to see, colourful tiles with that day's progress and charts for each metric.
All fine and good but your averages and personal bests are hidden away in an uninspiring profile view and other than moving goals up and down, it doesn't match rival fitness ecosystems such as Fitbit's and Jawbone's. There's no option to enter workouts manually, no trends or attempts at coaching and no community for encouragement or friendly rivalry.
This is the kind of app that will present the right information to you but isn't built around letting you do much with your lifestyle data.
Acer Liquid Leap: Smartwatch features
And as a smartwatch, it's much the same picture. This is not a wearable for constantly connected app addicts. The Leap simply displays the time and date as well as call alerts, texts and meeting notifications pushed from your smartphone over Bluetooth - no email, WhatsApp, Facebook etc.
But that is an improvement on plenty of sub-£100 smart bands so this might just sway you to spend the extra over the seriously cheap options from Jawbone and Misfit. Another bonus is that, like the Pebble Steel, you can access previous notifications on the Leap, they don't just disappear.
Still, elsewhere, there's no alarm function to speak of and the music controls only take care of the bare necessities. With the Music app on Android or iOS, the Leap can pause and skip tracks once you've pressed play on your phone but there's no Spotify support as yet as on Android Wear.
Acer Liquid Leap: Battery life
Battery life, at least, is strong compared to smartwatches. The choice of that tiny, monochrome pager-style screen pays off. Five days in and our Leap was still going with Acer quoting an impressive 240 hour standby time. That means it outlasts most smartwatches, apart from the Pebble, as well as the two to three days Sony's SmartBand Talk offers.
Then again, bands without screens such as the £40 Jawbone UP Move and £50 Misfit Flash last up to six months, which will completely change your feelings towards charging every five days. Add to this the fact that charging the tracker involves slotting it into a USB charging cradle and clicking the lid shut - otherwise known as a faff - and the Leap only makes sense if you really need the notifications.
- Notifications and basic fitness tracking
- Works with iPhone and Android
- Decent 5-7 day battery life
- Screen is tiny
- Not as comfortable as bands flush on wrist
- Charging cradle fail