Ever since the launch of the Android Wear OS, hardware manufacturers have been rushing to create smartwatches based on it. However, most of the devices so far have been pretty uninspiring, it has to be said.
Aware of this, Asus has seen an opportunity to fill the gap with its newly unveiled Zenwatch smartwatch.
Design and build
Visually the Zenwatch is fairly distinctive, and features a pebble-shaped metal chassis and leather wrist strap.
Like most smartwatches we ahve seen, the Zenwatch is fairly well built and has been designed to meet IP55 certifications standards. The certification means the Zenwatch is water resistant. Testing the Zenwatch we were impressed how well made it felt and found its metal chassis was fairly scratch proof and resilient, as well as looking nice.
However, despite being larger than a regular watch, the Zenwatch is fairly comfortable to wear and didn't feel unwieldy.
By smartwatch standards the Zenwatch's display is fairly small and comprises a 1.6in 320x320 Amoled touchscreen with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 - basically glass that makes its front face curve slightly.
While small, we didn't notice any serious performance issues with the Zenwatch screen during our brief hands-on. We found that text was legible and icons were suitably crisp. On top of that, thanks to the use of Amoled tech, colours on the display were wonderfully vibrant.
The one potential issue we noticed is that, like most smartwatches we've used, the Zenwatch's display can be hard to read in direct sunlight.
As we noted in our LG G Watch review, while full of useful push update services for features such as email, Android Wear is short of business-friendly features. Perhaps with this in mind, Asus has tweaked Android Wear, adding several productivity-focused features. The best of these are its presentation manager, cover to mute and Find My Phone services.
Presentation Control is a useful feature that lets people use the Zenwatch as a remote control and time manager when giving a presentation. The cover alert feature makes it easy to screen incoming calls or alerts and lets you silence the smartwatch, and attached smartphone, simply by placing your hand over the Zenwatch's screen.
Find My Phone is a custom feature that lets you make the phone attached to the Zenwatch ring, making it easier to locate if you've misplaced it.
Sadly, the demo unit we tested wasn't set up to run these services, though on paper they make the Zenwatch one of the better smartwatches on the market if you are a business professional.
The Zenwatch is powered by a 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and features 512MB of RAM. The specifications are fairly standard and during our hands-on we found the Zenwatch matched the smooth performance of past Android Wear smartwatches.
Battery life has been a constant issues on all smartwatches, with most at best lasting one to two days before needing a top-up charge. This appears to be the case with the Zenwatch, with an Asus spokesman telling us the smartwatch's 1.4Wh battery "currently gets a day", before adding: "we're still developing it and hope to increase this by the time of release."
Hopefully the work will pay off and the Zenwatch battery will offer at least two days come its release later this year.
Featuring a decent display, innovative design and wealth of productivity features, the Zenwatch has the potential to be a great business companion.
Check back with V3 later for a full review of Asus Zenwatch.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
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