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LG's G Watch is serviceable, but not a standout

Yewon Kang | July 10, 2014
Buying a smartwatch means adding yet another gadget to the arsenal of devices you already use on a daily basis. But we should expect a well-designed smartwatch to make our hyperconnected lives more manageable by giving us access to a range of features and applications in a more readily accessible manner than smartphones, tablets or PCs do.

Buying a smartwatch means adding yet another gadget to the arsenal of devices you already use on a daily basis. But we should expect a well-designed smartwatch to make our hyperconnected lives more manageable by giving us access to a range of features and applications in a more readily accessible manner than smartphones, tablets or PCs do.

LG's G Watch may not be as stylish as other entrants in the smartwatch market, but by pairing it with a mobile phone, I found that it does a serviceable job of offering alerts and app notifications, relieving me of, for example, having to call up email to see whether the full text of an incoming message needs to be read right away.

The G Watch, which runs Android Wear and is priced at US$299 in the U.S., is available for order in 27 different countries starting Tuesday, though actual shipping dates vary depending on the market (in the U.S., availability is set for July 11).

The watch is a squarish 37.9 millimeter-by-46.5 millimeter (about 1.5 inch by 1.8 inch) slab with a black screen — which could be considered either boring or nice and simple, depending on your taste.

Even though it's fairly lightweight, weighing in at 63 grams (2.2 ounces), it felt a bit bulky, as if a 9.95 millimeter thick, flat battery pack was sitting on my wrist.

The colors available are "Black Titan" or "White Gold." If you don't like the feel of the rubber-based strap, it can be replaced with other standard 22-mm watch bands.

The watch runs on a 400mAh battery, which lasted a whole day for me. It would be great if battery life were longer but the G Watch has a nice charging solution: it snaps onto a magnetic cradle, which plugs into a wall socket with a microUSB cable.

The display stays always-on unless you power it off. Although G Watch's 280 pixel by 280 pixel display is not up to the specs of rivals like the Samsung Gear Live, I didn't find that too bothersome. That's because, for how I used the watch, I didn't really end up having to closely read the screen that often.

One of the main reasons I'd wear a smartwatch is to screen email. For example, when a new-email notification appears on the watch, I glance at a line of the email to see whether I need to read it right away. When I do end up reading the full text of the email, I do it on my phone.

Probably the top selling point of the G Watch is that it is one of the first entrants into the smartwatch market that takes advantage of the advanced functions of Android Wear, the new extension to Google's mobile operating system that's been customized for smaller screens. For example, you can use the "OK Google" command to access a voice-controlled intelligent assistant similar to Apple's Siri.

 

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