(Pocket-lint) - We like big claims. We really do. But the suggestion that the Lenovo Magic View smartwatch concept is akin to "virtual reality for smartwatches" thanks to its dual-screen design - as quipped on stage at the Lenovo Tech World conference - is simply nonsense.
In reality, having handled one, it's far more like a modified Moto 360 with unsubtle second screen positioned to its lower portion. While that does succeed in its aim to make that display private, it's less practical to use than a soft-top submarine. And an oversized one at that.
Which all sounds a bit harsh, doesn't it? So let's contextualise: the Magic View is a genuinely good idea. It really is. It's just that the current implementation and available technology isn't up to scratch. But that's the beauty of a concept: it presents both the pitfalls and the potential.
The second screen, which receives a projected image, can only be seen when glancing from a specific angle and up close. Like really close, just a few centimetres from your face. Even then the image doesn't feel large as the "20x larger [than a standard smartwatch]" claim suggested, it just feels like looking through a below average camera viewfinder with limited magnification.
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But the interaction between the main smartwatch screen and this second screen is an interesting idea. Built on an Android base, a two finger swipe from an open app will put the second screen into play.
From Street View, why not look at the panorama on screen two? It's even possible to rotate your position and the image will follow, hence the virtual reality suggestion. From Snapsee, why not peer in on your personal messages and pictures, rather than having everything on display? From My Safe deliver a PIN to the second screen, or check your bank balance. Those are all concepts that work - and there's scope for plenty more.
But if glancing at a smartwatch is socially unacceptable today, then glancing at this second screen is social suicide. You need to plonk it so close to your face it's about as subtle as whipping out a DSLR camera and pointing it at a policeman in public. A wider angle of view, cleaner image, and visibility from a further distance are all points that need to be accomplished. Right now the technology to make that happen isn't quite there.
In terms of materials, however, Lenovo knows what it's doing. Having acquired Motorola - and the Magic View's chassis holds plenty of similarities to the Moto 360 - and providing the Moto Maker customisation service, we don't question the quality at all. They're not one and the same, of course, but look at our pictures gallery and you'll see what we mean: it looks like a quality device.
It feels premium too. That solid black finish looks great, the single link metal strap - the same as the one on our Moto Maker Moto 360 - is easy to use and release, the wear generally comfortable too.
What we do doubt is the size: that second screen makes the Magic View far more Penn than Teller (it's almost as funny given the scale too). The main smartwatch screen therefore also feels pushed too far up the wrist. We envisioned this screen being a small opening rather than a full-on screen, but the mirrors used (which appear visible, hence that multi-bladed razor look) and scale of the display make for an unavoidable size.
Unfortunately the Lenovo Magic View is a case of concept genius but design dunce. It's heart is in the right place, the ideas are logical and genuinely useful, but the current technology available means its implementation is short of the mark.
Our hope is that it encourages innovation; that more smartwatch makers wear their heart on their sleeve and show off such concepts to the public. To see new things is exciting, even if it sometimes means disappointment.