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The Moto 360: Hands on with the "reinvention of the modern timepiece"

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September 4, 2014

The Moto 360 is available for $249

The Moto 360 is available for $249

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When we first learned that Motorola had a round face Android Wear smart watch in the works a few months ago, it seemed like a wearable worth waiting for. As of today, the Moto 360 is officially a reality and available in the US, but the competition has started to catch up. Fortunately, Gizmag was among the first outlets to spend some hands on time with the Moto 360 at Motorola headquarters in Chicago on Thursday and I've also been able to put a review unit to good use in the real world. So far, it appears this could be the timepiece we've been waiting for since, well... since the beginning of time.

To understand why, you first need to know that Motorola doesn't like to call the Moto 360 a smart watch.

"We're doing something (with the Moto 360) that looks like a watch and acts like a watch but does much more," said Motorola's design head Jim Wicks during an introductory session to the Moto 360. "We really have reinvented the modern timepiece."

There's some marketing bluster behind that rhetoric, but when pressed during the session about the overall value of wearables, you get the sense that Moto's design team believes it wholeheartedly. Wicks talks about how the Moto 360, when paired with the new Moto X and the Moto Hint (a smart Bluetooth earpiece that works in concert with the watch and phone) can help us all to stop burying our faces in our phones.

"It's about the value of the quick glance and getting our heads up again."

Motorola Mobility President and COO Rick Osterloh shows off a Moto 360
Motorola Mobility President and COO Rick Osterloh shows off a Moto 360

Like the first pair of Android Wear watches to hit the market over the summer – the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch – the Moto 360 is primarily a vehicle for putting your smartphone's notifications on your wrist. Texts, calls, emails, navigation, Google Now cards and an expanding array of Wear-friendly apps can handle direct interactions from the watch via swipes, taps and voice commands.

As with other Wear watches, simply saying "Ok, Google" calls the Moto 360 to attention to answer queries like "who won the Cubs game?" or "when is my flight home from Chicago?" or "what year was Motorola founded?" (For the full run down on everything Android Wear can do, check out our full review.)

The Moto 360 also works as an activity tracker and pedometer with a heart rate monitor. An included heart activity app helps you work towards health and fitness goals.

The Moto 360's obvious leg up on the competition is its more fashionable and stylish aesthetic. It's quite an improvement from the calculator-on-a-plastic-strap look of the LG G Watch, for example, but there are more subtle improvements that seal the deal.

The wireless charging station for the Moto 360
The wireless charging station for the Moto 360

First up, the materials are a cut above the competition, with a steel frame and standard leather straps from Chicago's own Horween Leather Company. While the round face is still bigger than your average non-smart watch, it's surprisingly light. In fact, it's only 1.72 oz (49 g) with a leather strap (nice-looking and heavier steel straps are coming later) as compared to the LG G Watch and Gear Live, which weigh in at 2.2 oz (63 g) and 2.1 oz (59 g), respectively. You get more pixel bang for your buck, too

The Moto 360 also comes with a nifty wireless charging system that you'll need to become accustomed to toting around when you travel, as well as a few custom watch faces and apps designed to take advantage of that round screen. Motorola Connect also helps you keep track of your Moto 360's whereabouts, should you be the kind prone to losing things.

As for specs, the Moto 360's display is 1.56 inches across with a resolution of 320 x 290, creating 205 pixels per inch. A 320 mAh battery should get you a full day of use, but I can't quite confirm that yet. The heart of the Moto 360 is a TI OMAP 3 processor with 4 GB of internal storage and 512 MB of RAM. It also gets a nice-looking physical button on the side, dual microphones for better voice recognition and a water resistance rating of IP67 – that's water resistant, not waterproof.

I'll post a more detailed review next week with more thoughts, but in the meantime, the best news of all is that the Moto 360 is available today in the US starting at noon New York time at Best Buy or online from Motorola and Google Play. The leather version will be available to start for US$249, with a steel band version coming later for $299. The roll out will continue in other countries in the coming months.

About the Author
Eric Mack Eric Mack has been covering technology and the world since the late 1990s. As well as being a Gizmag regular, he currently contributes to CNET, NPR and other outlets.   All articles by Eric Mack
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8 Comments

"A 320 mAh battery should get you a full day of use"

...wait, what? - having your phone run out of battery towards the end of the day is one thing, having your watch run out would be pretty embarrassing seeing as it's attached to your wrist.

You'd want these things to last you at least a couple of days on a charge, but seeing as they're pretty huge anyway I can't imagine that happening without significant advances in battery tech/power management.

tapasmonkey
4th September, 2014 @ 11:29 pm PDT

Is the ringtone "bling bling"? As tapasmonkey points out, at over 1 1/2 inches, it is rather on the large side, to say the least and also that at least two days of operation on a full charge are not simply desirable, they are essential. I assume that it has an emergency setting where it shuts down everything bar the time display.

I like the voice recognition software, which I assume can be matched to the owner's accent and dialect, not to mention their language, but hope that it repeats the instructions just to ensure that it has fully understood them, seeing as it will not be possible to display most of them.

At $250 I hope that it has password protection, or better still, the voice recognition actually recognises individual voices so that it responds only to the owner instead of simply the words spoken by anyone.

Mel Tisdale
5th September, 2014 @ 04:36 am PDT

A "full DAY of use" on a single charge is absolutely RIDICULOUS.

Now, each night we'll have to charge yet one more puny battery running one more puny screen / personal accessory that we can carry with us. As if a couple of 1-day-per-charge smartphones and a bluetooth headset aren't already enough for us to charge each night... Yay, Moto!

Actually... no Moto, forget it!

If it doesn't have at least A WEEK, if not a month, of life on a charge, they might as well forget about it.

My take on this is that their marketing team followed everybody else like a herd and made the same three engineering mistakes:

- 1 including a mic and or speaker on the device. They're a complete gimmick and they drain the battery. Can their marketing teams PLEASE get over their Dick Tracy childhood fantasies???

- including a fancy colour screen. On a WATCH! ePaper would have worked just fine for the things the watch is meant to accomplish.

- including a touch panel. Drains battery, and our paws will very likely hide most of the 1.5 inch screen. A rotatable bezel could very well function for navigation, imo.

I'm beginning to look really forward to the day when smartphones become MOBILE phones again, in the sense of not having to charge them every night or two. On that matter, I'm really positive on a couple of smartphones that came out with ePaper displays. Each lasts about a week on a charge.

Τριαντάφυλλος Καραγιάννης
5th September, 2014 @ 07:23 am PDT

It looks cheap and ugly. I would never be caught dead wearing that thing. How's about putting a real watch face on it ( try Ulysse Nardine) and flip the screen for computing needs. Stop making watch that look like kiddy stuff or only nerds with no style would want them.

James Ng
5th September, 2014 @ 08:19 am PDT

I have a $24 Timex Indiglo that keeps absolutely perfect time and has been running flawlessly for three years on the battery that was in it at purchase. The best part of it is that there is absolutely zero drama if I crack it against a rock face or accidentally immerse it in water. I expect that $250 "reinvention of the timepiece" would not survive a month of what this Timex has been through.

Satweavers
5th September, 2014 @ 09:46 am PDT

It's a little strange to see that after all that development time and with so much technology and sophistication it's the steel watch band that's going to need some more time before its ready.

Daishi
5th September, 2014 @ 12:23 pm PDT

And it sold out in four hours.

Bill Bennett
5th September, 2014 @ 05:33 pm PDT

I heard a woman say recently that she'd got so feed up with her kids asking what the time was she'd written the letters "NOW" on her wrist.

Something for this information obsessed generation to consider.

Pat Pending
6th September, 2014 @ 01:19 am PDT
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