Asus gave us their flagship smartwatch, the Zenwatch, to try out for a week. Being one of those people who prefers the traditional look and feel of mechanical watches but also a lover of technology I wasn’t quite sure where my feelings sat with smartwatches, but after wearing it every day for a week, here are my thoughts….
Head to the bottom of the article for the Giveaway.
After having used the Zenwatch, in metaphoric terms, it’s basically putting the notification bar of your phone and slapping it on your wrist. I don’t think this is something unique to ASUS and it likely applies to all smartwatches in general. What does that mean? Well, you can’t really do too much from your notification bar, or your wrist for that matter. You can’t type in it and you can’t actually perform too many functions really. You can certainly read messages and swipe away notifications which is what this thing excels at.
If you’re a heavy user of Google Now then this watch would be much more useful to you. Operating on Android’s wearables operating platform, aptly named Android Wear, the Zenwatch will pop up with handy Google Now notifications like how long it’ll take for you to get home or score updates from your favourite sports team. Handy but not essential.
So I’m already hearing people say in their heads, “but you can write back to texts with a smart watch! You just speak to it!”. Now while this is true and all it took was a loud and clear “OK GOOGLE” into the speaker on the watch, you do look like a bit of a tool doing this in public. I found the speech recognition software to be fairly accurate but tediously slow as your watch synced between your smartphone and back. Again, this likely isn’t anything unique to the Zenwatch and moreso Google’s own Android Wear platform.
The other thing is the apps for the watch at the moment are pretty average. Apart from apps that give you lots of notifications like the Calendar, most aren’t that useful. The exception is however if, again, you want to talk to your watch. It can perform simple tasks like “Give me directions to X” or “Send Theo a message that I’m going to be late” or “Set a reminder for me at 4pm to take out the rubbish”. This works fine, but again, in public a little toolish.
So while you may not be too convinced thus far, there’s actually a positive in all of this buzzing and notifications on your wrist. Given you can’t really do too much with them from your wrist, it actually means you take out your phone a lot less. And that is a MASSIVE plus. I found myself not getting sucked into checking a message and then, all of a sudden, a wasted 15 minutes on instagram. The buzzing on the wrist is kinda nice when you get a notification and less obtrusive than going to the effort of taking out your phone from your pocket in conversation.
The Zenwatch itself looks stunning with a clear bright LCD screen, a relatively flat profile on your wrist (it’s thin) and a slight metallic orange tinge to the sides. It’s also incredibly lightweight and easy to charge with the adapter that they provide with the packaging (it won’t charge on its own via micro USB). Other cool things I liked were the step counter and the ability to change around each of the watch faces with information that’s important to you.
So my final thoughts on all of this… Smartwatches just aren’t quite there yet. This certainly isn’t anything against the Zenwatch in particular but moreso my personal views on the devices and category in general. They are useful, but certainly not a necessity. I’d be waiting for the second or third generation devices before purchasing them. I’m looking forward to manufacturers building in more functionality and developers building more native applications into the watches. Now I’m no longer using it though, I’m kind of missing the buzzing on my wrist…
Not only did Asus give us the Zenwatch to try out for a week, they also said we could give it away to our readers! Woo! To enter simply sign up for our newsletter below. You can choose to receive emails weekly, thrice weekly or daily so we’re not too spammy. We’ll be picking a winner on the 31st of July and announcing it on our Facebook page.