Moto 360 smartwatch review – Love it

moto360Let me start by saying that I have spent years avoiding wearing watches. But the advent of smartwatches made me start to consider overcoming my aversion to things wrapped around my wrists (trumped by gadget-love).

I dithered for quite a while and was finally persuaded by the Pebble. I liked the fact it was light, slim, programmable, and didn’t need frequent charging. It turned out to be all those things but, and this is a clincher, I found the screen hard to read and I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the integration with my Android phone: In particular I was jealous of the out-of-the-box ability to talk to the watch and get things done that I had seen people with Android watches doing.

So for the last three weeks I have been wearing a Moto 360. I have the larger man’s size on and it certainly isn’t as light and slim as the Pebble, but it’s proved remarkably comfortable. Certainly it’s no chunkier than a big man’s watch and it’s surprisingly light. So from the point of view of wearing it, I’ve been pleased. And I recognise that there is a trade-off between size and readability.

I have never, ever had anyone comment on my Pebble beyond asking if it was indeed a Pebble; but I’ve had several people comment on my Moto 360 and say how good it looks. It looks like a well-designed watch, especially when you put a decent watch-face on it; and there are enough watch faces available to suit anyone’s style.

The best thing though is that lovely clear screen. I can read the screen at a glance in pretty much all lights. There is, perhaps, an irony in noting that the Pebble works best in bright, direct sunlight  and that’s when the Moto works worst. But even now my Moto is sitting a couple a meters away from me and I can read the screen; I struggle to read the Pebble at less than arm’s length.

I love being able to control Google from my phone: From quick answers to simple questions, to things like setting reminders. I thought speaking at my watch would be weird, and it is a little secret-service-like, but it’s not very weird and you soon get used to it. The balance is that it is really useful. That again is a trade-off with the Pebble – I could easily program the Pebble to do things I wanted it to, I can’t easily do that with the Moto, but it just does most things I want out-of-the-box. (By the way, in case you are wondering, the most useful thing I made my Pebble do was decide which of my teenagers got to sit in the front seat of the car.)

The Pebble, of course, is a complete winner on battery life (although somewhat less so than advertised when you put all the back-lighting settings on high to make the text more visible). The battery on the Moto is fine for daily use. I don’t sleep with my watch on, so sticking it on the neat magnetic charging stand overnight is no big deal. However, if you did want to use your watch 24/7 then only getting a couple of days out of the battery could be an issue and would require some logistical thinking.

The Moto is an absolutely lovely bit of kit. It’s the sort of thing that makes you realise we are now living in the science-fiction future.  Beautifully made and really useful, it really is worth a retail price currently sitting somewhere between $250 and $360 depending on the model. The only thing about that price is you have to recognise that this wont be a watch to hand on to your kids, other than as a curiosity – give it another year or so and there’ll be a whole new generation of smartwatches. But right now this is about as good as it gets.

My wrist was adorned with a review copy of the Moto lent by the lovely folk at Expansys.

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