The Zenwatch: First impressions

Oct 10, 2017

Zenwatch 2 image

Today I got a new toy–the Asus Zenwatch 2. I had a specific need for a smartwatch (namely, I needed a silent alarm I could wear on my wrist) and I figured I may as well get Android wear, given as I’ve been curious about it for so long.

Smartwatches (a term so unused that my spellchecker still doesn’t recognize it) have been around for years now, but have not caught on nearly to the extent that smartphones have. I do occasionally see them out in the wild, but it remains fairly rare. I can see why–until this issue with the alarm came up, I was never really tempted to go for one.

Why the Zenwatch? Well, (perhaps as another indication of how not invested I feel about this) it was the cheapest decent refurbished Android wear I could grab off Amazon. A few hours later (thanks, same day shipping) I had it in (on) my hands and updated to Android wear 2.0.

My first impression is that Android wear is unintuitive. It was hard to figure out how to do basic things. Part of the issue may be that I’m just so used to the interface of smartphones that I take for granted that I know how to use them, but learning how to navigate the watch and do all I wanted with it was surprisingly challenging.

It offers a lot of customization options in terms of watch faces, but most of them are garish and impractical. Furthermore, so many of the apps really seem like solutions in search of a problem. For example, there’s a flashlight app where you can use the face of the watch as a flashlight…apparently by awkwardly flashing the back of your wrist at what it is you want to illuminate (and ignoring the fact that you should have your phone with you anyway, otherwise your watch wouldn’t work). There’s another app that instantly allows you to send an SOS message to a trusted contact in case of an emergency, but this raises the question, if you know you’re in that much danger that you have to instantly contact someone, couldn’t you have let them known beforehand, or just contacted them with your phone?

Beyond that, in regards to style, the watch fits very awkwardly on my wrist, and kind of moves back and forth, needing to be tighter. The rectangular face is awkward on my arm, and the screen looks cheap (although this can be forgiven, being a cheaper model).

Still, if this watch succeeds at doing the one thing I need it to do (silently wake me up in the morning and not my roommates) I will be happy. Anyway, these are just my first impressions. Expect a fuller review to be forthcoming.