Moto 360 hands-on: The big round smartwatch

Announced at Google I/O in June, the Moto 360 has taken a long-ish time to make it to UK shores but the wait is almost over.

Costing £199 and avialable from early October, we managed to get our hands on the new circular Android Wear smartwatch to see whether you should be getting excited, or whether it's a lot of fuss about nothing.

Design

While the initial Android Wear efforts from Sony, Asus, Samsung, and LG have all been about being discreet, the same can't be said for the Moto 360. Circular in design, it stands out, bright and bold on your wrist begging people to notice and comment.

The large and rather chunky device certainly won't be for those with thin wrists, although the size and shape doesn't translate into weight - a good thing in our books.

That lightness doesn't mean that it appears cheap though. This is well built and finely crafted.

The design itself is fairly simple. A single button adorns the side to imitate a mechanical winder while the circular but flat Corning Gorilla Glass 3 glass on top has a very watch-like feel to it, more so than the square efforts by the competition.

The back reveals virtually nothing, although there is a heart rate monitor hidden therein.

The only real criticism about the front 1.5-inch 320 x 320 205ppi display is that it isn't truly circular, with a small black line at the bottom breaking what would be an otherwise elegant approach.

When questioned, Motorola told us that it was due to engineering, something that LG has proved isn't necessarily the case with the just announced LG G Watch R. Motorola seems to acknoweledge that it's not perfect and that it's a shame that technology moves so quickly.

Android Wear

The Moto 360 runs Google's Android Wear and apart from a number of especially designed watch faces that almost all look amazing (the Simple watchface looks awful) the company hasn't touched the design experience.

While LG, Asus, Samsung and others have all been busy adding apps and features, Motorola says no. The reason, claims the company, is that by not adding all the extra layering it will be able to update software as soon as possible once Google release any updates, rather than spending time making it work with the tweaks it has made.

It's a valuable point, but one worth bearing in mind especially if you like what other manufacturers are adding.

Talking, moving, and swiping

With virtually no buttons (that side button really only wakes the device) you are left with a number of taps and barks to control it. In our play at a preview event in a busy hotel in London we had no problems talking to the smartwatch, nor did we have trouble swiping our way through the settings to change the watch face, or check notifications as they appeared. The system is easy to use and quick to respond thanks to 512MB of RAM, and a fast processor.

In that much, it's very much the Android Wear experience as you'll find elsewhere.

Not always a watch

One of the biggest criticisms we've had with all the Android Wear devices so far, is that when they aren't on, it's just a black screen on your wrist. The large striking design of the Moto 360 amplifies that even more.

Shaking your wrist to check the time does fire it into life, but a static glance isn't going to deliver you anything and that's still frustrating.

Battery and charging 

Our time was brief with the Moto 360 so we've not had a chance to test out any of the company's claims of a full day of usage from a single charge of the 320 mAh battery, however having to charge daily may pose a problem for some.

While the Moto 360 does come with wireless charging via the docking station in the box, you'll have to cary that with you or as some savy users might do, opt for any Qi wireless charging station if you can find it. Still if you forget to charge overnight you'll have to take the docking station with you rather than just find a Micro-USB cable kicking around. 

First impressions

Like the Pebble smartwatch that garners plenty of "ooh what's that" comments, this is going to turn heads and make people sit up and ask you what you've got on your wrist. Of the Android Wear devices it's one of the most striking yet, and a device that for, better or worse, has become the poster child of the new smartwatch era.

But with plenty of other watches already announced and the LG G Watch R giving you a credible alernative, we have to question how long Motorola will be able to hold that mantle, and whether or not the Moto 360 will date quickly.

Iconic? Yes. Timeless? We aren't so sure.