A week with Moto 360

There’s an important question to answer today.

Are smart watches really useful? Is it the right time to buy one?


A year ago, Google teased a new branch of its renowned operating system, Android Wear. It showcased a few smart watches from makers like LG and Motorola. LG G Watch was a regular approach in terms of design, but Motorola took a more natural approach towards designing the first of its kind wearable. A round-faced, perfectly engineered marvel, Moto 360. It invoked an interest in this technology driven world to focus more on the untapped market of wearable technology.

             I had been trying to get my hands-on a Moto 360 for a while, including shipping one from the US and I could finally get one from Flipkart. Thanks to their deals with Motorola for exclusive sale of their products. You can read my first impressions here, if you haven’t already. So, the much awaited Moto 360 arrived a week ago and I have used it extensively the whole week, to come up with a reasonable review.

Moto 360 is a treasure chest. You can keep talking about the wonderful and amazing things it does.

Design

           Moto 360 received a great applause for its design. It is a carefully engineered product. For the first time, it really felt like Motorola finally showcased its true capabilities in creating a great product. It features a round circular dial with a Stainless Steel body, which also comes in black. It features leather bands by Horween, a company that makes NFL footballs. It feels great, really premium. It covers all aspects of how a traditional watch is supposed to look like. Round dials, premium leathers, a button on the side. It also packs more than a traditional watch. The pictures make it look heavy, but surprisingly, it is light, very light. That’s a brilliantly pulled feat of engineering. Well played, Moto, well-played.

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Screen

             The moment your eyes catch this modern timepiece, the only thing you will really notice is its 1.56 inch round LED screen. It is so gorgeous that you wouldn’t want to see any other part of this watch. It has a resolution of 320 x 290 pixels, which is approximately 205 ppi. It is a sharp screen, which does its job pretty well. But, those of us, who have been used to the high-resolution displays over 440 ppi might find the screen less sharper than usual. But again, it does a great job outdoors too. Pictures look sharp, text looks crisp and watch faces look elegant. The colour reproduction is great as you would expect on an LED display. Oh, yes, it comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to keep itself from scratches and dust.

          A lot of people have been complaining about the small cutout portion on the bottom of the screen. Frankly, in my one week with this device, I didn’t notice it at all. This is the reason why the resolution is 320 x 290 instead of 320 x 320. It never comes into your way and catch your attention. In fact it is a great decision by Motorola in terms of engineering to go ahead with the cut unlike the new LG G Watch R, which makes the dial bigger on the bezels. It houses the ambient light sensor.

Watchbands

        Flipkart had only one option. Gray leather bands with Stainless steel body. It is great, but I found the dark gray version available at BestBuy and Moto website better than other options available. This one is a light gray version and the quality is remarkably good. I didn’t expect anything less and it didn’t disappoint me. I have used it during my workouts and regular activities and it seemed to repel water rather than getting wet. That’s solves my issues of removing my watches to save them from getting wet. 

Heart rate monitor and pedometer

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       The most talked about features in a wearable, health monitoring and fitness tracking are a part of this smart watch as well.

       Moto 360 features a heart rate monitor that tracks your heart rate throughout the day and help you with tips to keep your heart healthy. It is more accurate on the Google Fit heart rate app than the Motorola’s own app. I personally didn’t really find it useful, but may be there will be apps that will take advantage of this feature. 

        Pedometer is not that useful right now due to lack of apps that take advantage of this. Also, it is not really accurate, it keeps counting your random hand movements to be steps, like Marquees Brown-lee mentioned in his Moto 360 review.

Performance

         There have been a lot of reviews that point out the usage of TI OMAP 4 processor is not a great move by Motorola. Ok, this is the processor that Motorola used in its Droid series of devices before they shifted to Qualcomm Snapdragon. It is age-old, but still works fine. Thanks to Android wear for all the under-the-hood awesomeness. There are times when I found it laggy and I think a software fix is a solution to all those problems. In fact, I received an update a day after I started using it and it fixed a lot of performance issues, including battery life. Just not to forget these specifications, it comes with a 512 MB RAM and 4 GB onboard storage.

          The software is  great, but it lacks a lot of features. This is just the first version, so there’s a lot to come yet. Motorola Connect app lets you customise your watch faces and tracks your health data, but that is not enough. Right now, Android wear can only do so much and it is getting better with other app makers optimising their apps for wearables. For example, Microsoft Research made this cool keyboard for smart watches.

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         Battery life is the most concerned issue not just with a Moto 360, but all the smart devices. So, it does deserve a mention. A friend of mine even made a joke after I got this device, “Now you need to charge your watch too daily”. That was err… true till the first charge. The first ever full charge cycle after I opened the box lasted for 8 hours. That disappointed me, but after the update a full charge cycle lasted a whopping 28 hours. I have this watch almost always strapped on (even while writing this), connected to my phone and tested it under pretty moderate to heavy usage. So, I can safely say that all the battery life issues are solved and delivers the promised one full day usage. A 320 mAh battery is not big, but it goes on and on.

         Time to run to conclusions. This is a great timepiece with super cool watch faces and there’s no doubt about it. In this one week with this watch, I found myself using the watch more than my phone to check my notifications, reply to messages, make notes and set reminders. Thanks to Google’s most accurate voice recognition. I just leave my phone in my pocket or bag and go on with my work. Moto 360 tells me, with gentle vibrations, about incoming messages and calls, which feels great to not pull your phone out just to see who’s calling you. I even had a few people looking at it in the Metro when I changed my music tracks or reply to a text message. It is definitely an attention grabber.

         Is a smartwatch really useful? Well, it is, but not yet. Smart watches are a great step for wearables, but they are in their nascent stages. There is a dearth of features that makes them just expensive watches, right now. Also, there’s a great competitor coming soon, Apple Watch. It is the only comparable smartwatch to Moto 360 in terms of engineering, design and ecosystem.

         Should you buy one now? No, unless you are really interested in trying out one and a price tag of Rs. 17,999 doesn’t matter to you. It is highly advisable to buy one after a year or so. But, in case you decide to buy anything before the next edition Moto 360 or rumoured OnePlus Watch or Apple Watch come out, this is what you should buy. You can buy it from Flipkart at Rs. 17,999/- in a week or two. 

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Moto 360 – First Impressions

Yes, I got a Moto 360 on Flipkart exclusive. A beautifully crafted time piece, which does more than just showing me the time. Its round Aluminium body and the Gray Horween leather make it feel really premium. The packaging is one of the best I have seen. It comes in a white round box emphasizing the “360” body. This is how it looks when unboxed.

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This is a great time piece, absolutely. As most of you know from many articles trending on the web about this watch, it has a single button on the side and works the way you expect it to work, turns the device on and off. But, the presence of an accelerometer and an ambient light sensor eliminates the need to touch the button on the side. Raise your hand to see the time and it will turn itself on.

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Motorola’s design team hasn’t disappointed me and it actually looks better than in the photos anywhere on the web. The leather used feels really premium. It feels like all those high end watches with brilliant leather and moreover, you can swap these straps with the steel and other options that Motorola is going to launch later this year.

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There’s been a lot of fuss about the cut bottom edge on the screen, which houses the light sensors. Frankly speaking, in my hands-on with the watch for the past 12 hours, I barely noticed it. The 1.56 inch display dominates it, giving you no chance to notice it. It is not a big problem, though. It has a gorgeous Gorilla glass to protect it from scratches and dust. It is also IP67 certified, so using it when washing your hands and other daily activities which involve water and dust shouldn’t be an issue.

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Another feature that blew me away is the charging dock. It, simply, is the most convenient charging module I have ever used. The moment you place your watch on the dock, it turns into a clock, may be a bedside clock. It breaks the common notion that smart watches are less useful when they are off the wrist. Talking about the watch faces. They. Are. Gorgeous. The Motorola Connect app let’s you customize the backgrounds and accents of these watch faces to suit your style.

Wireless Charging dock

The software. Android wear is butter smooth in my first impression with this watch, but I will talk about the software and the internal features in my full review. Not to forget the Pedometer and the heart rate monitor, they work fine as of now. It gave me a 72 bpm the first time and I am not sure about its accuracy yet, as I need to put it through vigorous gym training sessions to see how accurate it is. The step counter by Google fit tracks the steps and again as a lot of reviews said, it is not perfect. May be software updates are on the way to set it right.

As of now, the only issue I find is the battery life. It drains fast. I charged it a full 100% before testing and it ran down to 50% after a moderately heavy usage for 4 hours. A lot of reports do say that there is an update coming out to fix the battery life. Well, this is my day one with this watch and there are lot more days to come. It is too early to get a smart watch, but if you want one, this is what you should get. I have tried the Samsung and LG’s Android wear devices and they are no where close to this one. It costs Rs. 17999/- on Flipkart and is expected to be back in stock in 2-3 weeks.

P.S: The images make the strap look brownish, but it actually is Gray, like in the photograph that shows off the watch face.

I will come back with a full review in a week or so, after putting it through all the possible tests. Yes, I am adding a tech review section to this blog.

The Bygone | Episode 2

       

       Again, he was reminded that he was not alone when he realised that something is watching him. The creature dashed past behind him and in no time, Varun was on his feet, arming the stick in his hands.

        Varun got back to the creature on the ground and observed it carefully. He fell back from the body with a horror on his face.

       “This can’t be real. This cannot be real.” repeated Varun in a half-dead tone.

Read the full episode here.

The Bygone | Episode 2

 

 

 

The Bygone | Episode 1

There were prayers on every lips, tears in every pair of eyes and no hope on any of the faces. The newly weds had their palms clasped, the children hugged their mothers out of fear and the mothers held them out of pain, the businessmen took a last hopeless look at their family photos in their wallets and on mobile phones, the elderly looked at their dearest and prayed to save them.

The Bygone | Episode 1