Hands-on with the Asus Zenwatch

By Richard Devine on 3 Sep 2014 09:19 am
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We're live in Berlin at IFA 2014 where Asus has finally unveiled its first Android Wear smartwatch to the world. Having been teased ahead of the event, does the Zenwatch live up to the hype? We've spent a little time with the new watch and already we're impressed. It's launching in October for €199 in Europe – no word on U.S. pricing or availability right now – but you want to see it, right?

Well, here it is!

A recap on the specs, first. The Zenwatch has a 1.63-inch AMOLED display at 320x320 resolution – and as you'd expect, some really deep blacks – with the now par for the course for Android Wear 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage. The band is Asus' own but it's not using any proprietary nonsense in how it attaches to the watch. That means you can swap it out, but honestly, you might not want to.

Asus Zenwatch

Asus went the leather route for its band with a quick release clasp. And it's nice. It's really nice. The tan leather on display at the event goes really nicely with the overall design and it's nice and soft on the inside, too. It's an Android Wear watch band that you'll want to wear.

The Zenwatch has a curved glass display running over the top and it actually looks pretty nice when you're wearing it. It's not the smallest thing in the world, though it's also no bigger overall than the original Pebble. The back is stainless steel and the Zenwatch charges using a cradle – which we didn't see, but think LG G Watch and you're on the right lines. On the sensor front there are 9 Axis sensors for tracking your activity – or relaxation as was highlighted in the press conference – and a built in heart rate monitor.

Asus Zenwatch

On the software front it's pretty much the same Android Wear we've seen before, though the units here were only running in the demo mode. Asus has got some custom bits on there though like the find my phone feature where you tap twice on the watch to make your lost Asus smartphone ring. That, just like the built in remote camera feature, is exclusive to Asus' own phones at this point in time.

There's also a standalone Zenwatch Manager application which helps activate another couple of features like Asus' own take on trusted Bluetooth where the watch can automatically unlock the phone. Nothing groundbreaking that we're missing out on – especially since there are ways and means to do some of these already – but we'd be lying if we didn't say we wanted Asus to share the wealth.

All in all, the Zenwatch is a really nice entry from Asus. It looks good, the display is good, the band is excellent and it's comfortable to wear. At €199 it isn't super cheap, but it also isn't pricing itself out of the market. Compared to some of the watches we've already seen, the Zenwatch could be an excellent buy for the price.

Check out some more images in the gallery below and check back later on for a hands-on video!

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Hands-on with the Asus Zenwatch

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