Next-Gen Smartwatches, Where Art Thou?

So I have a confession to make.  I don’t own a smartwatch.  Yes, I know, pathetic.

But wait, is it pathetic, really?  I’m the kind of person that looks at both sides of the coin.  On one side, we have the tech geek, who puts practicality aside and buys a device because it’s new and cool.  On the other side, we know from experience that first-gen products have pretty big compromises and don’t end up worthy of their large price tags.

The first batch of smartwatches out the gate did not impress me one bit, such as the Samsung Gear line, Sony Smartwatch, or LG G Watch.

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Really LG? [via Slashgear]

Right as we were getting used to more premium smartphones, we’re knocked right back into uninspired designs.  Manufacturers were essentially attaching a rubber strap to a square block and calling it a day.  I’m as much a tech geek as the next guy, but I’m not giving my money to someone who doesn’t try.

But alas, out of nowhere, Motorola stepped up to the plate and gave something worthy to place on our wrists, the Moto 360.

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The original Moto 360 [via Motorola]

I can without a doubt say that the Moto 360 set the standard of what a smartwatch should be, and it unarguably blew the competition away.

So at this point you probably have this question for me:  Why don’t you have one?

Although the Moto 360 looks just about perfect in the press images, everything ain’t flowers and rainbows in real life.  And forgive me in advanced if this nit-picky, but I feel I have enough of an argument.  Enough of an argument to settle my geeky-side down and wait for a product that more meets my standards.

Build-quality-wise, Motorola nailed it.  The press images don’t lie, this thing is beautiful in real life.  And all the different strap choices are fabulous.  However, when using it, these concerns show their faces:

  • Size/Thickness:  Probably less a problem for larger folk, you’ll certainly notice it on your wrist and other people will too.  Now, this might be something you like, maybe you want to stand out.  But generally, with watches, we’re used to a certain proportionality.  This guy sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • Resolution:  The 205 ppi resolution on the Moto 360 just doesn’t cut it.  This was the first thing I noticed when I played with it the first time.  I could see the pixels.  With 1080p and QHD resolutions in current smartphones, the super low res on the Moto 360 hit me hard.
  • Speed (or lack of):  I was disappointed when I learned that the Moto 360 was using such an old SoC:  Texas Instruments OMAP 3, from a few years back, instead of the current Snapdragon 400.  But I dismissed the thought, saying “How much power does a smartwatch need anyways?”.  Well, I was wrong.  Its slowness does clearly show around the Android Wear interface.

If you think I’m being harsh, you won’t want to hear what I have to say about the competition.  Like I said before, I praise Motorola on setting the standard of the smartwatch design with the 360.  And this was their first crack at it!  Bravo, but there’s still lots of work to do.

So where are we currently in 2015?  Well, waiting for manufacturers to step up and fill in what was missing from their first-gen smartwatches.  And also, for new ones to come in, following Motorola’s lead, such as the Huawei Watch announced earlier this year:

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Huawei Watch [via Huawei]

My money will go to the one who nails design and specs.

Do you agree?

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