LG G Watch persuades us smart watches are cool

lg-g-watchThe technology World is abuzz with smart watches as the next thing to, well, watch. We took the LG G Watch for a test drive and found it surprisingly useful and remarkably cool.

There are really two ways of looking at a smart watch – first what’s the point of the concept at all when you’re already carrying a phone and second what’s the specific watch like.

The concept turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Having information on your wrist is actually useful – from the weather, to SMS messages, from directions to quick searches, and even the time. That raises the first thing to note about the smart watch though – it is basically a device to communicate with your phone, there’s little that it does by itself. That’s not a criticism but it has to be recognised, not least because the watch’s utility is defined by what your phone can do and how you’ve configured it. It took our test subjects a little time to get Google Now and Android Wear set up to make best use of the watch, but once that was done the watch became invaluable. So our first conclusion was that the concept of a smart watch has legs.

Putting the device on your wrist is not without its limitations, as out Senior Android Correspondent, Callum P, reported: “The LG G Watch is an amazing piece of technology. Instead of having to rummage around in your bag or pocket just to see why your phone has binged at you, you can just glance at your wrist. Need to take a note? Send an SMS? Find something out? The LG G Watch can do it. However, it cannot take calls from your wrist, so it just tells you that you are being called, and you can choose to answer, but you still have to dig out your phone to talk. The directions don’t give you the whole map, just the steps. In addition, we found a revealing issue: The directions depend on understanding which way your phone, not your wrist, is pointing, and with your phone in your pocket pointing at the ground, the directions can be erratic at best.”

There are a few other issues, such as the fact that you have to go through the search screen to get to the other features. You also have to be reasonably close, say in the same room, to your phone for most of the features to work.  The phone must be an Android. The watch isn’t shock proof, and not water proof either, so this isn’t a watch for the great outdoors. That said, we didn’t have any problem using the watch outside, although on bright days it was necessary to wake it up, with a tap, to brighten the screen.

One of the coolest features is using Google’s voice recognition; you can perform searches call up your diary and so on. We found this was one of the features that seemed to give rise to exclamations of ‘wow’ amongst those we showed the watch to. There’s also, very strangely, no question that it feels far more natural talking into your watch than to your phone for this sort of thing.

The LG G Watch communicates with a phone via a Bluetooth 4.0 connection. Although that’s a slight additional drain on the battery our tests saw us getting through full days on both watch and phone without any problem at all. The watch has a neat charging cradle, so there are no fiddly cables to deal with.

The phone is light and fits round even a slim wrist. That said, it’s never going to be tiny – there’s always going to be a trade-off between a legible and usable screen and the space on your wrist. Luckily, the current fashion is for chunky watches so this is less of an issue than it might otherwise be.

All-in-all, this is a cool piece of tech. It can save you so much time otherwise wasted rummaging around for you phone, and is basically all-round cool. We give it 4/5 for convenience, 5/5 for overall coolness, and rate it a great buy at around $275.

We stared at a review copy of the LG G Watch lent to us by the lovely people at Expansys Australia.

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