Given that neither the Liquid E1 nor the Liquid Z2 are high-end devices, we weren't surprised to find that the handsets are constructed of relatively low-rent plastic. That said, fit and finish of the phones we lay our hands on were good -- pieces were fitted with tight tolerances and there were no unsightly seams or blemishes to be found.
The E1's skin is textured around the back, which makes it easy to grip, and its only two buttons -- a chromed plastic volume rocker on the right edge and power key up top -- had decent travel and were easily found by feel. According to Acer, the E in E1 stands for entertainment, and while it does have dual speakers embedded in the back and DTS audio, we weren't particularly impressed with the sonic output. It could pump up the volume louder than most phones, but the sound's still shallow and tinny like every other smartphone we've heard. Otherwise, performance was befitting a phone of it's caliber: the dual-core CPU kept screen swiping smooth and apps launched with little lag, and the IPS display had near 180-degree viewing angles and good, if slightly cool, color reproduction.
As for the Z2, well, it's an entry-level handset aimed at folks who are looking to leave featurephones behind and get their first smartphone. It is a largely unremarkable handset as a result, but Acer has put a bit of unique software to make the transition from dumb- to smartphone a bit easier. It's an app launcher that simplifies the Android interface and keeps users in a more comfy featurephone interface. If either of these new Acers strike your fancy, they are available now in Europe, where the Liquid E1 runs €199 to €229 depending on carrier and retailer whims, while the Liquid Z2 goes for €99 and €129.
Dana Wollman contributed to this report.