(Pocket-lint) - The Vector Luna Watch isn't your typical smartwatch. Sure, it does everything you'd expect a smartwatch to do – deliver notifications, track your activity, wake you up with an alarm and offer customisable watch faces – but Vector claims those receiving up to 200 notifications a day from a synched phone will get a month of use before it needs to be recharged.
Design-wise it doesn't follow the horological path by combining an analogue face with usual smartwatch smarts. And although it's competing against more digital smartwatch takes, such as devices from Samsung, Sony and Apple, it doesn't try to emulate these competitors there either. Indeed, the Luna takes its own route.
It sounds almost a little too good to be true doesn't it? We've had the Vector Luna strapped onto our wrist for a couple of weeks to find out whether it has the potential to be the smartwatch of choice, whatever phone faction you have in your pocket.
The Vector Luna Watch come in three ranges – Performance, Contemporary and Classic – with a total of 12 products available. The core watch functionality is the same for each, including water-resistance to 50m, it's all about design differences.
The Performance range has a black watch body with either a silicon or black stitched leather strap and a custom forged stainless steel buckle, while the Contemporary and Classic ranges are a little more fashion conscious, and consequently look better.
The Contemporary range opts for a stainless steel casing with light brown and steel bracelet straps and butterfly clasps, while the Classic collection brings in rose gold and champagne accents with tactile leather and polished bracelet straps. A Vector logo in engraved onto the casing, which makes it feel like a "proper" watch.
When we first laid eyes on the Vector Luna back at Baselworld 2015, we thought it was stunning. It isn't small, nor is it particularly slim, but we still loved it. The Luna has a 44mm face and it is around 11mm thick, so you're talking Moto 360 rather than Apple Watch scale.
We've got a model from both the Performance and Contemporary range, with the latter winning out every time in our eyes. The Performance model feels bigger and bulkier than the Contemporary model, despite being the same size, and rather than looking premium the black casing and silicon strap look somewhat cheap. Not so the Contemporary model: the stainless steel casing here almost helps relieve some of the bulk (even though it's only visually). And given that both ranges cost the same we think there's no contest with which to pick.
Elsewhere Vector keeps things pretty simple with the design. The body has three buttons: a middle action button alongside up and down buttons to scroll through the watch faces you have downloaded.
On the underside of the casing are the charging pins, although we haven't had to use those yet thanks to the long battery life. Two weeks in and it's still holding strong.
The Vector Luna opts for a monochrome LCD display rather than colour or OLED like many of its competitors. It's the display that allows this smartwatch to last longer than the common day or two standard per charge, despite being always-on.
Even though the display isn't the sharpest out there, it does the job well enough. All notifications can be seen without any drama, including in direct sunlight, so we didn't have any issues checking the time or looking at notifications when outside.
There is also a backlight for night-time viewing, which turns on when you press the middle action button. The only issue with this is that it turns off after a second so you don't have long to read. It's enough to see the time, but if you want to read a notification, you'll have to keep turning it on, or hold the action button down, which is just awkward. By the time you have done this, you might as well have just picked up your phone instead.
The bezel surrounding the Vector Watch's display is bigger than it needs to be too, at around 8mm. Either a smaller casing or a bigger screen would have been better looking. Other than a Vector logo on the casing at the bottom it doesn't seem to serve much function.
The Vector Luna smartwatch is minimal in its approach to notifications, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It works on the principal that less is more, so while you receive information to glance over, you can't really do anything with it like you can with the Apple Watch or an Android Wear device (even though the actions on these aren't exactly perfect yet).
When a notification comes through, be it a text massage or Facebook mention, the Vector Luna gently vibrates and the notification is shown when you turn your wrist. It's something the Apple Watch also does and it's a feature that should be praised as it means every Tom, Dick and Harry standing near you can't read that your partner is running late home from work or that you need to pick up some carrots. You can also dismiss notifications with another flick of your wrist, if you have turned this on in the settings.
There is the option to mirror your phone, or select the specific apps you want coming through, although you won't see all apps. Vector apparently learns the apps you use the most and adds them to the alerts section in the settings category over time. We use WhatsApp and email on a regular day-to-day basis but neither has appeared in the app list yet. In fact, we don't get notified for WhatsApp or email even when we set the watch to mirror our iPhone so, at the moment, the notifications element isn't working quite as well as it should. We also had a couple of connection issues which meant the watch needed to be unpaired and paired with the phone again.
Notifications do appear simultaneously on Watch and phone, though, so there's no lag. However, you can only see five lines, which while enough for "Joe Bloggs has commented on your post" isn't necessarily long enough for everything. So a longer text message will require you to pick up your phone as there is no way of scrolling down, despite the two buttons either side of the action button.
Calendar notifications are clever though, showing you the sections of your day that are busy around the perimeter of the watch face itself (depending on the one you select). The Luna will also greet you in the morning with a good morning message and tell you about meetings within your day so you are aware of what's coming up. It's a nice touch.
In terms of phone calls, it's possible to accept or reject a call on the watch itself, but you can't do that super cool (read: really strange) thing of talking through your watch on your wrist. If you accept a call using the Watch, it simply answers it on your phone.
Basic activity and sleep tracking
Alongside delivering notifications from your smartphone (well, most of the time) the Vector Luna also tracks your activity and sleep. It will measure steps, distance and calories burned, and tell you how many hours you slept each night.
Accuracy-wise, it's pretty average. We certainly won't be using it as our new gym buddy, not only because it is too big, but also because compared to the likes of Fitbit the Vector is as minimal as it gets when delivering useful data.
The sleep tracking is simple, detecting you're asleep from a lack of movement, but not delivering the same level of thorough information of some competitors (such as deep sleep, light sleep, number of times awake, and so forth). It's also far too big of a device to wear to bed in our opinion.
It is possible to set steps, distance, calories and sleep goals within the app, which is useful and something that, strangely enough, not all activity trackers offer. The data collected can also be viewed on a graph if you spin your smartphone landscape when within the activity category, after which you can select day, week, month and year to display. But that is the extent of what you get for activity tracking: it's basic and it's fine, but it won't blow you away.
Like most smartwatches the Vector Luna enables you to set an alarm, which will wake you up by vibrating on your wrist. It is possible to set multiple alarms, as well as name them, which we like. It's a simple thing, but sometimes the little things are worth mentioning.
There are also traditional watch functionalities such as stopwatch, chronograph, countdown timer and multiple time zones, all of which are useful.
Perhaps more exciting, however, is what Vector calls Streams. These consists of things like weather, stocks, dates, alongside a few others. Streams can be added to certain watch faces, allowing you to see what matters at a glance. For example, you could opt for the date, or your daily steps, or even a different time zone. At the moment, the Streams available are pretty standard, but in time Vector says it will open up its platform to allow third parties to create Streams too.
This will also be the case for apps. At the moment the Vector Watch can't even begin to compete with the likes of the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices in this department. Even Apple doesn't have a huge number of apps for its Watch that you could actually deem useful at the moment, but this is likely to change. Vector has a much harder fight because it has to convince companies it's a worthy option to invest development time in, alongside the more established platforms out there.
When the Vector Luna launches in September, it will have CNN, Bloomberg, ESPN, Evernote, BBC News, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Weather and mlb.com apps either available, or coming shortly after. Subsequent apps to be released are even more promising, with the likes of Twitter, Uber, Nest and Runkeeper all set to be on board.
The available apps can be downloaded from the Vector store within the phone app, and they will then appear alongside the watch faces so you get to them using the top and bottom buttons. Like the rest of the watch, the apps are minimal. BBC News, for example, will give you the headline of three of the latest stories but that's it – you would then have to go onto your phone and open up your browser to see the actual stories.
We'd love to see a little more development, such as pressing the middle button not just to skip between the three stories, but also open a browser or app on your smartphone too. If Vector can get developers on board then the apps and streams could work really well. But at the moment it's difficult to tell how these areas will pan out.
Simple interface, but a few kinks
The Vector app is an interesting one. We love how it looks, featuring a black and gold-yellow colour scheme. It's seriously simple to navigate around too, but it isn't flawless.
There are four sections at the bottom of the app: Watch Maker, Activity, Alarms and Settings. In the middle is the watch face, which allows you to switch between watch faces instantaneously, although this can also be done on the watch itself as we mentioned previously. At the top are three circles: the one on the right allowing you to turn vibrations on and off; the left showing battery life; and the middle being the store for apps, streams and more watch faces.
All of the sections are pretty self-explanatory. Watch Maker is where you can change watch faces and customise them, such as adding the weather. Activity is where you'll find your activity data, and a click on each of the data points will allow you to set the goal. As we said before, turn your phone landscape in this section and you'll be faced with the graphs.
Your activity tracking profile is set in Settings, where time zones can also be added and, under Contextual, various settings such as morning greeting, automatic sleep detection and wrist flicking gestures can be turned on or off.
There is also the alerts element, which is where you choose to mirror your smartphone and whether to allowing specific apps to send notifications. Annoyingly longer-named apps such as 'UP by Jawbone – Free Fitness Tracker' don't fit in the space provided but rather than running over an additional line, scrolling within the space, or tapering off with an ellipsis, the Vector app allows the name to run over the toggle next to it. It looks messy and unconsidered, which stands out in an app that otherwise looks the total opposite.
As the smartwatch world widens, the Vector Luna Watch does a good job of standing out on two fronts: design and battery life. We think its Contemporary collection design looks lovely, complete with decent, albeit chunky, build quality that can stay on your wrist for 30 days without needing to recharge.
However, the Vector's notifications process isn't flawless and its monochrome display isn't amazing, as expected. That's all necessary for such long battery life, though, so although the Vector doesn't do as much as the likes of Android Wear devices, or the Apple Watch, it comes down to what you want from a smartwatch.
And the Vector Luna Watch is ultimately a simple smartwatch. It cuts its own path and does a fair job of it too, but there are more stepping stones to lay before it can be seen as a fully realised device.
If you're after a discreet smartwatch that looks good and delivers snippets of information rather than bucket loads, then the Vector Luna won't disappoint. And let's face it: how much more do you actually need displayed on your wrist?