The wearable tech category is evolving. No longer are manufactures taking a cell phone and slapping it on our wrist. It would seem that manufacturers have understood that we wear a watch because it looks good first and secondly it tells the time. So too must wearable tech look good first and then have the cool tech to make it an awesome companion to our mobile phones.
LG is clearly showing that it understands this “looks good” principle with its latest wearable smart watch, the LG Watch R.
The Look and Feel
The LG Watch R is stunning. It has a nice round face which means it fits in amongst traditional time pieces without sticking out. Every element on the watch seems to have come out of a Swiss watchmakers shop where quality is a priority. My party-trick while wearing the watch is watching people’s reactions as I swiped away on the regular-looking watch face. This always made people ask what about the device. From the genuine leather strap, to the clasp, to the power button that looks like a watch’s winder wheel, LG has created a beautiful time piece.
For those who are used to large watches like a TAG Huer, the size of the LG Watch R is not an issue. However if you have a small wrist or not a “big watch” fan, then perhaps you might not like the bulk-look of the device on your wrist.This is down to personal preference.
The screen size of the Watch R is 1.3 inches with a resolution of 320 x 320 and the entire screen is used for any application you have running on the device. When it is in standby watch-mode, the entire screen is used showing what looks like a traditional watch.
In direct sun light, the P-OLED screen is bright and easily readable even when not facing the watch directly. Sneaking small glances at the watch from virtually any reasonable angle allows you to read the screen which is great to in meetings where you don’t want to be obvious about checking your mail.
The LG Watch R is powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and has a 512 MB of RAM. It runs Android Wear™ (compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 and above) which is intuitive to use as you swipe between screens and menues. No lag was experienced whilst navigating the screens with the watch reacting fast and responsively.
In order to get the most out of the LG Watch R you need to pair it with your Android smartphone. This is done using the Android Wear application which is downloaded from the Play Store. Once installed, Bluetooth is switched on, and the two devices find each other and link up. When this step is complete you can choose which notifications should appear on your watch. Initially I enabled all notification and over time, I disengaged most of them as not everything needed my attention the split-second it arrives on my phone. I landed up with only several applications pushing their notification to my phone such as email, SMS and WhatsApp being the main ones. These notifications appear at the bottom of the screen and are discreetly read.
What I do like about the LG Watch R is the ability to choose a watch face to suite the occasion. Out at a formal event then a “suit” watch face could be appropriate, out at a club? then one of the more funky watch faces could be selected. Even here, LG has taken the time to add practicality into the watch faces. Some simply tell the time, whilst other offer valuable information such as step counter, altitude and compass (for the hikers) or World Time of two additional cities for those expecting the call from the US.
There is a 410 mAh battery in the LG watch R which easily lasts the day even when constantly using and abusing the apps. The watch has a “screen always on” function so that the watch face is constantly visible. When enabling that option, then by the night time, I would need to charge my watch. However, when I disabled that option, then I could get through a day and a half. I just landed up sticking the phone into its charging cradle at night as that was permanently connected to the wall socket. It was a bit of a pain initially to remember, but just like charging your phone overnight became a routine, this became one too.
What impressed me is just how neat and tidy the notifications appeared on the screen waiting to be actioned. One tap on the screen and you can say “Ok Google” and issue an instruction such as search for…. or call… or Navigate to…. This worked surprisingly well in a quiet room however when there is too much background noise, it didn’t fare so well.
My favourite application was the Navigation. I would enter the destination on my mobile phone and then start to navigate. From that point, the watch took over and the phone was relegated back to its phone holder in the car. All instruction were clear and at a quick glance at my wrist whilst keeping hands on the steering wheel, it was incredibly clear and intuitive way to move around.
Other facilities include a hear rate monitor, stop watch, step counter and all work without an issue.
So in Summary:
I am glad to see that the wearable are moving beyond just doing what the cell phone does. The LG Watch R extends the functions of the phones and allows those people suffering from FOMO (fear of Missing Out) to untether themselves from the phone when making a cup of coffee or going to the bathroom. Anything super important would display on the watch.
The LG watch R is available from Vodacom at R4999