Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Jan 2015 20:15 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Early December 2014, I bought the Moto 360 with Android Wear. As someone who loves both watches and technology, it seems like a great time to jump into the world of smartwatches, and see if it has evolved beyond the bulky '80s stuff that has come before. I'll first give you a concise history of smartwatches, after which I will dive into Wear and the 360 themselves.

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Comment by Antartica_
by Antartica_ on Thu 8th Jan 2015 21:20 UTC
Member since:

Personally, I want from a computer-watch the following:
- have it easy to know what weekday is today (yes, I'm that forgetful)
- having lots of configurable alarms that repeat weekly (this one is the main reason to have a computer-watch instead of a regular watch)
- being able to look-up the time (amazingly this one is not so important; there are lots of clocks around me; at work, at home, in the street...)
- bonus functions (games, calculator, etc)

I've been wearing some type of computer-watch for the last 25 years (casio databank, onhandpc, timex datalink, again onhandpc, metawatch and now a galaxy gear). Of all of them the onhandpc was best maching that. And it had a 3-weeks battery life (or 1.5 months if you put not-recommended batteries and didn't mind having to swipe its joystick to look at the time). Pity that it broke.

Now I'm managing with a Galaxy Gear flashed with an alternative rom (null) and bluetooth and autolit-sensor disabled just to get 1 week of battery.

Amusingly, one of the things I love of it is being able to put notes in it; I just use a whiteboard to write the note (at work or at home) and then I use the camera to capture it.

Other niche use: use kanjidraw/narau to look-up japanese kanjis drawing them in the screen (try to hold a book and a cell phone and then use a finger to draw in the screen a kanji at the same time -- with two hands it is almost impossible without dropping something).

Other mainstays, as the games (2048 is nice in the watch) or the calculator is just added bonus.

The problem as I see it, is that a computer-watch may have good uses for certain people, but finding a use that makes it "indispensable" for the average person will be very tough. For example, the current focus on "displaying messages" and "sport sensors" doesn't add anything desirable for me.

Edited 2015-01-08 21:22 UTC

Reply Score: 3

by dnebdal on Thu 8th Jan 2015 21:45 UTC
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I'm deeply fascinated by the IBM/Citizen one. It's a touchscreen device meant to interface with (among other things) your phone, has fingerprint unlocking, and you can twist the crown to navigate the GUI. I wonder if Apple licensed any patents from them.

Edited 2015-01-08 21:46 UTC

Reply Score: 3

by Carewolf on Fri 9th Jan 2015 15:36 UTC in reply to "IBM"
Carewolf Member since:

I'm deeply fascinated by the IBM/Citizen one. It's a touchscreen device meant to interface with (among other things) your phone, has fingerprint unlocking, and you can twist the crown to navigate the GUI. I wonder if Apple licensed any patents from them.

Apple never license any patents without being forced to do so through a court case.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: IBM
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 9th Jan 2015 15:44 UTC in reply to "RE: IBM"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:

"I'm deeply fascinated by the IBM/Citizen one. It's a touchscreen device meant to interface with (among other things) your phone, has fingerprint unlocking, and you can twist the crown to navigate the GUI. I wonder if Apple licensed any patents from them.

Apple never license any patents without being forced to do so through a court case.

And even then. As far as I know, they are still trampling all over Samsung's patents.

Reply Score: 2

Fix Wrist flip & battery life
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 8th Jan 2015 21:56 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:

Those are the two worst parts of it. I can see battery life being acceptable, if recharging it were easier. I don't wear watches, but when I did, I took them off at night. If my nightstand had a large wireless QI charger, just setting it on it would be acceptable, if it lasted just over one day.

But the acceleratorometer has to be fixed to allow more normal activation. Its pretty absurd right now.

Reply Score: 4

Wrong smartwatch?
by signals on Thu 8th Jan 2015 22:11 UTC
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I think you may have gotten the wrong smartwatch. I bought a G Watch R when I got my Nexus 6 so that I wouldn't have to pull the whale out of my pocket all the time, and I am completely happy with it. I think the worst part of it is the stupid name.

The build quality, performance, and battery issues you complain of are non-existent on this watch. There is no stuttering or lag, and it doesn't pull the hairs out of my arm. ;-)

I leave the ambient display on all the time and usually have about 60% battery left at the end of the day. I guess I'm OK with charging my watch daily. My other watches all have a spring and need to be wound daily or need to be worn daily (automatics) in order to keep running, and having to take the GWaR off at night and put it on the charger is not an annoyance to me at all.

I think the watch looks 100x better in person than in photos, too. Have you actually handled one before you decided to call it a toy? (This may actually be personal preference. I think the 360 looks garish. I think it's the lack of lugs where the band attaches.)

But, I guess I didn't expect a lot from a smartwatch. I want a watch that tells the time and is always correct, but still has an analog face. It changes the time when I change time zones, and also knows about daylight savings time. $300 for the GWaR was a lot cheaper than a Seiko Astron which is the only non-smartwatch way I know to get that functionality. I also want a way to see what my phone is beeping about without having to dig it out of my pocket. That's about it, and that's what Android Wear gives me.

I guess I had low expectations... But, Android Wear has exceeded them.

Edited 2015-01-08 22:14 UTC

Reply Score: 5

I completely agree
by aditseng on Fri 9th Jan 2015 07:43 UTC
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I never take off my watch except to wear another. I have a formal watch and a couple of Casio's. And for me a watch should quickly and easily tell me the time. Anything else is a plus, but that's a basic. Of course, I'm loathe to buy another device that I need to charge every few hours. I'm curious about the Casio bluetooth watch. I haven't got one yet, but that's closer to what I'd like rather than a regular "smartwatch". But unfortunately it only comes in the G-Shock style which is too 80s for me.

Reply Score: 2

A Watch with notifications
by jamaca22 on Fri 9th Jan 2015 10:59 UTC
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Could this be of interest

I'm pretty sure this is just vapourware but an interesting concept.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Radio
by Radio on Fri 9th Jan 2015 11:40 UTC
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Thank you, Thom, for those kind of articles. This is easily one of the most insightful and researched article on the roof of smart watches. The bar was pretty low to begin with, but you did an excellent job.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Radio
by jazman777 on Fri 9th Jan 2015 21:15 UTC in reply to "Comment by Radio"
jazman777 Member since:

Agreed on the review.

Has anyone seen comments from Apple users speculating how Apple's watch might / will be an improvement?

Edited 2015-01-09 21:15 UTC

Reply Score: 1

This review makes me feel good
by Noremacam on Fri 9th Jan 2015 11:50 UTC
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I ended up buying a Pebble Steel instead of a google watch. Several day battery life and always on screen. None of the hassles you've described.

Round screens may look nicer, but the pebble steel looks great, especially with the metal watch band.

Reply Score: 5

anevilyak Member since:

Seconded, as far as "smart" watches go, the Pebble is pretty much exactly what I want out of them. Both Apple and Google are trying to make their respective platforms do way too much given the reality of current hardware constraints. I also like how the Pebble's use of hardware buttons means there are various things you can easily do without actually having to look at it (i.e. switch music tracks).

Reply Score: 5

Casio Databank
by sb56637 on Fri 9th Jan 2015 22:28 UTC
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For me, it's a Casio Databank for life.
It saved me from a peck of trouble when I got my smartphone and wallet snatched; thanks to having my important contacts' phone numbers stored in my watch I called and got my credit card immediately voided.

Oh, and it has a 10 year battery life. Read that again: 10 YEARS!

And for Thom: It's also multilingual. ;) The day of the week and text labels can be set to any one of about 10 languages, including Dutch.

Reply Score: 3

Smartwatches are pointless at the moment
by rklrkl on Sat 10th Jan 2015 15:52 UTC
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I think we're several generations away from a smartwatch that ticks all the boxes (BTW, I *really* don't like that black panel/bezel at the bottom of the Moto 360 display - chops off the bottom of some of the watch faces!).

With a steel-strapped 30 quid ($45) Casio Wave Ceptor as my current favourite watch with a multi-year battery life, absolutely none of the smartwatches available now or coming out in 2015 beat it in several departments.

Just wondering if colour e-ink (whatever happened to that?) and high performance/low-battery-life-sucking very small CPUs might be one way to fix the bad performance and battery life that we're currently seeing?

Personally, I'd just a like a smartwatch that its main function was to let me choose from dozens of (mostly free hopefully) nice-looking analogue or digital watch faces since that's surely one of the more important "standalone" functions of a smartwatch that scores over a dumb watch?

Oh and the display really needs to be on 24x7 (hence e-ink only being updated once a minute might be the solution if you avoid displaying seconds of course).

Reply Score: 3

by fche on Sun 11th Jan 2015 02:40 UTC
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Thom, that was an excellent review/article.

Reply Score: 1