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Review: Asus ZenWatch
3.4Overall Score

Price (RRP): $299
Manufacturer: Asus

Everyone has a smartwatch, and Asus is no stranger, too, offering a slightly curved display and a whole heap of customisable watch faces. Is this Android Wear at its best, or just more of the same?

Features

Another smartwatch for the pile, the ZenWatch WI500Q is the first time Asus is tackling this new area, and while it’s a first time product, what is inside is fairly familiar.

If you’ve seen an Android Wear watch this year, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the ZenWatch, though perhaps without realising it, because the hardware is pretty much identical.

Inside this watch, you’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.2GHz, paired with 512MB RAM and 4GB storage, as well as Google’s Android Wear operating system.

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Wireless communication is included with this hardware, offering Bluetooth 4.0 to get the watch talking to the phone, though you will need an Android smartphone in order to make the Android Wear connection possible.

You’ll also find a multi-axis sensor on this watch, microphone, and a degree of water and dust resistance (IP55), with all of this sitting under a screen measured at 1.63 inches diagonally, and offering up a resolution of 320×320 or 277 pixels per inch if you’re talking pixel clarity.

The display is protected by Corning’s scratch-resistant curved Gorilla Glass 3, and touch has been kept in the unit allowing you to touch the screen. That being said, you’ll find a small button — the only physical button on the unit — on the underside of the watch.

Wrist straps on the ZenWatch are replaceable, however, and a proprietary charge bed is used to charge the watch, though this last section can be plugged into a microUSB connection.

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Performance

We’ve seen quite a few smartwatches in the past year, and while Asus is a little late for its first model in Australia, it is here all the same, showing off another take on what a wearable computer can be.

For the Asus example, we’re seeing a sway away from the skeuomorphism that Android Wear makers tend to take — you know, that circular smartwatch look LG and Motorola have both adopted — with a return to the square-wish take Samsung and Apple have both preferred.

We get why a square is more preferable, too: there is no mistaking that you’ll be looking at a screen, and regardless of how much you like a circular watch, you can fit more information on a square or rectangle, because that’s what screens have traditionally been shaped to be.

That being said, both shapes have their pros and cons, and while we like the square, we also still love the circular smartwatch design, and still rely on that LG G Watch R, as that is our smartwatch of choice on Android when we’re not wearing something more mechanical, or carrying an iPhone and relying on the Apple Watch.

With that out of the way, let’s see what the Asus ZenWatch is all about, because when it comes to design, Asus is all about first impressions.