Moto 360 worth a shot despite its flaws
The smartwatch market is growing, slowly but surely. Samsung has released a handful of devices so far, and Apple is throwing its hat into the ring later this year.
Yet, it’s the Moto 360 that has my attention.
Motorola talked the big talk when it began promoting the 360 shortly after the company announced it would be hitting store shelves in late 2014. For the most part, Motorola made good on its promises.
For the most part.
The smarts behind the 360 is it doesn’t try to be a replacement for your phone — it’s simply trying to reinvent the traditional timepiece.
It’s simple, tasteful, stylish and nondescript in a good way. It catches the eye and gets comments, but it’s almost impossible for someone to know it’s a smart device by looking at it. It just looks like a clean, classy watch.
Which is what I believe Motorola was going for. That move and marketing plan goes against the grain, compared to what companies like Samsung were doing as it touted its devices all through 2013 and 2014.
The 360 is comfortable and sleek. Its stainless-steel exterior looks great on the wrist, and it weighs only 1.7 ounces, which is pretty light compared to the watches I wear. It might be a bit thick for some users, but I didn’t find it to be a problem. And the leather strap rounds out an exceptionally elegant package that runs on Android 4.3 and above.
The watch face is a 1.65-inch, 320 x 290 resolution LCD display. It’s also raised ever-so-slightly above a beveled edge, which initially concerned me because of scratches. But, thanks to Gorilla Glass, those concerns were quickly squashed.
The round display is pretty, and provides a picture quality and color accuracy that’s good enough. You’ll see jagged edges on texts and images, but that’s just part of doing business with a screen this small with the resolution it has. Still, it’s not an eyesore.
A smartwatch is only as good as the software it has at its disposal and the Moto 360 relies on Android Wear, which needs some improving.
It’s clear to see that Android Wear, controlled completely by Google, designs software for rectangular and square displays, so the 360’s circular design sometimes interferes.
Lists, for example, sometimes have cut-off text, and sometimes images will be cut off, too. So even though the 360 looks great, it can also be a hair disappointing to use. Google will have to begin writing software that accommodates circular displays if it wants to be a part in providing solid smartwatch experiences.
The 360 itself works well. The digitizer responded to every touch I sent its way, and notifications on things like emails and texts were sent from my phone to the 360 in simultaneous fashion. It didn’t strain my eyes to read texts on the 360, and it came in handy when I wanted to remain hands free of my phone.
Responding to notifications is also easy and works well. The “Okay Google” voice command feature was a pleasure to use and it almost never misheard me thanks to the dual microphone the 360 has hidden.
I used the “Okay Google” feature to ask for directions, set an alarm, send texts and emails, and to check my heart rate. It worked every time.
The fitness tracker is powered by the Motorola Connect app, which comes pre-downloaded on the 360. It’s a general tracker that monitors steps taken, heart rate and so on. It was accurate, and retrieving information was painless and quick.
Customization options are also vast. Not only can the watch’s strap be swapped out for other colors and materials, but also the watch face can be changed out. Motorola provided a handful of faces, but the Android community is pumping out new designs that can be installed onto the 360, which can help users nestle into their individual tastes.
The seriously disappointing thing about the Moto 360 is its battery life. During the workweek, I have my watch on me for about 15 hours and, sadly, the 360 couldn’t keep up. I got about 10 to 12 hours out of it, at best, and its wireless charging caused even more frustration because of the required dock. If I wasn’t near the dock then I was out of luck.
An extra dock for my office has a price tag of $40. Add that to the $250 cost of the 360, and the total price is getting a little too expensive for the complete package.
Also, if you want to charge the device in a vehicle, you’ll need to take the dock with you, which creates a whole new hassle. You’ll either need a flat surface to place the dock on (and hope the watch doesn’t topple over during the drive), or you’ll need to put some grip tape on the bottom of the dock so it won’t slide off your dashboard.
That said, the Moto 360 is a practical and enjoyable device to use. I can’t help but wonder what the wearable device market will be like in three years because, if the 360 is any indication, then the future is looking great.
The price is a bit on the high side, but it’s a sleek-looking watch that does a great job at providing users with quick information throughout the day. If you don’t mind the battery life and want a smartwatch you can customize, then the Moto 360 is worth taking a look at.