Metawatch Frame

Australian T3 - - RATED -

US$229, METAWATCH.COM

Smart­watch de­liv­ers “watch” el­e­ment, fails on other bit

This gen­er­a­tion of smart­watches is typ­i­fied by a move away from the overly pla­s­ticky look of the orig­i­nal breed. In­deed, if it wasn’t for the info-packed 96x96 pixel LCD screen on the face, this just would look like a nor­mal wrist­watch. Not very stylish, granted, but nor­mal.

Ac­tu­ally, the Frame is the ugli­est de­vice on test (which, you’ll find out, is say­ing some­thing). It’s also fes­tooned with an ex­cess of all-too-easy-to-ac­ci­den­tally-press but­tons and a screen with a re­flec­tive mir­ror ef­fect that makes it hard to read in sun­shine. Text­book.

The Frame works with both iOS and An­droid de­vices, con­nect­ing via Blue­tooth 4.0. The MetawatchMan­ager app con­trols the grid-like dis­play on the screen, let­ting you choose which no­ti­fi­ca­tions ap­pear on an app-by-app ba­sis. That’s great in the­ory, and a smart way to dis­play a lot of info at a glance, but the cur­rent re­al­ity is a near com­plete lack of apps.

You can re­ceive texts, emails (iPhone only) and cal­en­dar no­ti­fi­ca­tions, con­trol mu­sic and screen calls, but ev­ery­thing else, from Face­book and Twit­ter in­te­gra­tion to fit­ness apps, is “com­ing soon”. Oh, and it won’t let you set an alarm – the watch we had at age six did that! It will, how­ever, alert you if you stray too far from your phone, re­duc­ing the risk of leav­ing it in bars.

It charges us­ing stan­dard mi­cro US B but, stupidly, re­quires a pro­pri­etary clip to con­nect to the watch via a small C-shaped con­nec­tor on the back. This inel­e­gant so­lu­tion makes it a pain to con­nect prop­erly and ren­ders the watch use­less while charg­ing by cov­er­ing most of the watch­face. Once fully juiced up you can use it for up to a week, though.

De­spite ar­riv­ing at the smart­watch mar­ket in time for the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, this feels more like a first-gen prod­uct. It fails to im­press when it comes to style, func­tion­al­ity and, at this point, avail­abil­ity of apps. We doubt we’ll bother go­ing back to it even if the lat­ter sit­u­a­tion changes. Love Info-packed dis­play. De­cent bat­tery life Hate Mir­rored LCD dis­play dif­fi­cult to see in di­rect sun­light. Unin­spired de­sign. Cur­rent lack of apps T3 Says This watch’s face may be packed with info, but with so few apps, lit­tle of it feels es­sen­tial

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