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Motorola Moto 360 Smartwatch review

80%
Awesome

Moto 360 Specifications

→ Android Wear compatible with Android 4.3 or above
→ 1.56in 320x290 pixels, 205ppi
→ Backlit LCD display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
→ 46x11.5mm
→ From 49g, 320mAh battery
→ TI OMAP3 processor
→ 4GB internal memory
→ 512MB RAM
→ Bluetooth 4.0LE
→ pedometer
→ optical heart-rate monitor
→ IP67 waterproofing

  • Design

Android Wear device impresses

PERHAPS THE MOST eagerly awaited wearable outside the Apple Watch, the Motorola Moto 360 was the first Android Wear device to be announced, but the last to make it to market.

Since then rival LG has launched its second Android Wear smartwatch. But with cool looks and some neat extras, the Moto 360 seems to have been worth the wait.

Motorola Moto 360 Smartwatch review

Design

The most notable thing about the Moto 360 is its looks. We were suspicious of how Android would look on a device with a round face, but actually, it is beautiful.

It has one button where the winder would be on a conventional watch, which wakes it up and puts it to sleep. All other commands are via the reinforced capacitive touchscreen and the microphone on the left-hand side.

The recurring comment about the Moto 360 is that it is big. Certainly, on a dainty lady’s wrist it is going to look like something Flavor Flav would describe as “a bit much”, but on hulking bloke arms, it’s fine, and carries a lot less weight than you would expect.

Our review unit has a grey leather strap and is extremely comfortable, but other versions are available. The polished aluminum bezel and back are very stylish.

The Moto 360 watch weighs 49g with the leather strap, and 104g or 124g with the two different metal straps available.

Our only negative on the watch design is that, in order to accommodate the round display, there is a quarter of an inch of dead space at the bottom of the 1.56in 205ppi LCD screen, which spoils an otherwise pretty perfect design.

Set-up

Setting up the device is incredibly easy. Motorola has pumped the 360 full of little extras, so there are just two apps to download: the main Android Wear app and the Motorola-specific Connect app. Then it’s just a case of Bluetooth pairing, which is a breeze in Bluetooth 4.0, and you’re logged in.

The device is tethered to your Android phone – it will currently support any device running Android 4.3 or above – so that’s it. There’s no logging-in required. It is, in effect, a second screen for the phone, but active rather than passive and adding value to the apps it integrates.

It took us a little while to get used to finding the settings that allow the clock face and other details to be changed. The easiest way is by swiping from an ‘OK Google’ voice prompt. This can also be accessed by double-tapping on the screen.

Features

The Moto 360 very soon becomes an integral part of your day. Anything that Android offers as a notification, the 360 will display across the clock face.

This can sometimes get a bit annoying, but fortunately, you can opt to mute all notifications with a simple downward swipe. The watch has no sound chip so, even if you leave it on, the notifications shouldn’t annoy anyone.

If the phone goes out of range, the watch will gently remind you that you may have left it behind. This can be a little irritating when you are pottering around the house, but it’s a lot less frustrating than the current crop of ‘smart’ keyfobs. It’s also very reassuring to know that, when you are out and about, both expensive items have got each other’s back.

From a fitness point of view, the Moto 360 is head and shoulders above most of the smartwatches of the current generation. As well as a very accurate pedometer, it has a heart-rate monitor. Google Fit will monitor your progress, adding stats from the watch to its own, and you can scroll through these with minimum fuss.

The 360’s party piece, however, is integrated with Google Now. We found the onboard microphone so accurate, even in a crowded bar, that it actually outperformed the host handset. It answers your questions complete with illustrations and you can scroll through further information from the Google Knowledge Graph. For example ‘How tall is the Eiffel Tower?’ yields the answer with photographic evidence, and you can scroll to Wikipedia information and web links.

Reviewing the Moto 360 is, in some ways, inextricably linked to reviewing Google Now itself, and we want to concentrate on the former, so needless to say it also alerts you to appointments in your diary, tracks shipments, gives directions, and offers myriad other functions which are growing almost daily.

Third-party apps are starting to emerge as Google opens its API for Google Now. Customers of Nationwide can already ask for balances, and Amazon users can search for goods, straight from the phone, and this seems to be just the start.

One of the other aspects that we particularly liked was the wireless charging. The bundled stand is aesthetically pleasing, charges quickly and, while docked (a simple matter of placing it in the stand), turns the 360 into an elegant and subtle bedside clock.

Performance and usability

There is no question that the Moto 360 is very smooth and packs all the computing punch it needs. It had no judder or lag during the time that we tested it and didn’t need to reboot.

The battery isn’t phenomenal, but it comfortably lasted the day and, with the wireless charging being such a breeze, it didn’t really bother us. Although on a night out that rolls into the early hours, you may find that the watch doesn’t last till dawn.

The navigation is a little fiddly at times but, once you learn what does what, it is no more difficult to operate than the host phone. It is, perhaps, just a little less intuitive being a new form factor and concept.

In short

The 360 is a stylish, feature-packed, and practical smartwatch, although the battery life and screen real estate use could be improved. So we salute it, but acknowledge that there’s better to come, and soon. Rumors are already abounding of a successor at CES this January.

 

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