Asus ZenWatch Review
Low on fitness options
Screen is heavily pixelated
Battery life could be better
Asus wasn’t really a company you would expect to enter the smart-watch market, but with the ZenWatch, they made a very good start.
At a retail price of $199, the Asus ZenWatch is one of the more affordable smart-watches out there, but there are a few things lacking to make this truly an awesome smart-watch.
Interface and Performance
The Asus ZenWatch runs on Android Wear and that’s both a good and a bad thing at the same time.
Inside is a Snapdragon 400 processor with a dual-core chip at 1.7GHz, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage space. Not too bad, knowing that the LG G Watch has 1.2GHz.
Don’t expect to be over awed by ZenWatch’s interface too much. The LG G Watch R will fare much better in that department, albeit at a steeper price. However, ZenWatch does beat the likes of Tizen OS and Gear S when it comes to interface experience.
The information card on Asus ZenWatch will pop up from the bottom of the screen (vertically) and allow you to flick through tabs. A simple left-to-right swipe will remove a tab from the list, while a right-to-left swipe will open up extra options. By tapping the home face screen, you can open settings, alarms, heart rate and more, with the most recent app at the top of the list.
Notifications are a bit limited for our taste and include only the basic templates like yes, no and busy. Then again, smart-watches are not made for conversations. At least not yet. Of course, if you don’t want to reply to a call at the moment, you can simply mute the incoming calls and alarms by placing your hand over the ZenWatch’s face
The Asus ZenWatch Manager app is a really nice addition as it allows you to set the watch as an unlock key for your smartphone. This will save you a lot of time as we all know you’ll spend a lot of time switching between your smart-watch and your smartphone.
On the display side the ZenWatch won’t win any awards with its sharp-edged rectangular screen inside a round-edged rectangular face, but this does get the job done.
The real issue here is that the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 OLED screen does look quite pixelated, especially if you give it more than a simple glimpse. The screen itself has 320 by 320 resolution on 1.63-inches and 278ppi.
The panel is bright enough, but without an ambient light sensor, you’ll have to tweak the brightness yourself in the settings each time it’s too bright or too dark.
When it comes to design, the ZenWatch can proudly bear the Asus name as it did not disappoint here at all.
The Moto 360 will probably appeal to more people with its round shape, but Asus ZenWatch isn’t that far away. With this smart-watch Asus took a middle road opting for neither circular nor square shape, as it rounded out the square edges.
The brushed steel bezel can be a little distracting, which may not be so much of an issue if the screen were a bit bigger. Still, the thickness nicely counterbalances this, and with a nice comfy leather strap, you won’t have to hide this smart-watch under your sleeves.
Speaking of the strap, it was really easy to put it on, unlike the Gear S, but we were a little worried about the clasp. It just didn’t look overly secure.
Of course, if you prefer metal or plastic (though we have no idea why) to leather, you can switch straps with ease as the ZenWatch is highly customizable. All you have to do is press the release the pins that are attached to the lugs and they’ll pop out quite easily.
Oh, and we almost forgot. There’s a power button on the back. Why? We don’t know, especially since you can switch off your smartphone from the options and these will be much easier to find than the power button. It’s somewhere underneath, just jam your finger and you’ll find it. One day. Probably for hard resetting, we all know how that goes.
Hmm, a stainless-steel body with a leather strap. Certainly looks nice, but certainly not very good for fitness, right? Quite right.
True enough, fitness freaks can definitely find better than the ZenWatch smart-watch. At least something that has an accurate heart rate monitor and GPS tracking. The only things remotely useful if you are going running with this smart-watch on your wrist are the step counter.
Unfortunately, the built-in Bio-sensor, which is supposed to give you your heart-rate readings, will be so off the charts that it is more likely to give you a heart attack itself. The step counter doesn’t fare much better either, as it looks like it has a mind of its own. That of a 5-year old, who still doesn’t know how to count properly.
Okay, that’s enough badmouthing the Asus ZenWatch. It really isn’t that bad, you can even set it to remind you every few hours to take a walk.
Bottom line is, if you’re looking for fitness Smartwatch; look elsewhere, because this isn’t it. Perhaps the Polar M400? But it is quite a contender in other departments.
Powering the ZenWatch is a 369mAH battery, which puts this watch between the LG G Watch R’s 410mAH and the Moto 360’s 320mAH battery.
When it comes to how long the battery will last, the Asus ZenWatch didn’t disappoint, but neither did it impress us. Unless you are going to do nothing at all with your watch, you’ll have to charge it every night or two given its processing requirements and all the power under the hood.
Once you connect the ZenWatch to your smartphone and notifications keep coming, the battery will drain rather quickly, so don’t expect it to go for too long before having to charge it.
Speaking of charging, the ZenWatch has its own charger. It’s basically a charging cradle you pop into the back of the wearable. Watch out you don’t get it lost as it’s pretty small.
In addition to the charger, the ZenWatch also comes with a proprietary micro USB cord to plug into.
At $199, the Asus ZenWatch is a very good choice. True enough, while it is a solid piece of TechWear, with nice design, the fact is this smartwatch doesn’t really stand out that much on the smart-watch market, especially when it comes to battery life and fitness options. But it is definitely a worthy contender!!