Smartwatches have never really interested me. The idea of having a conversation through my wrist is a definite no. I saw an ad for a Moto 360, though, and it swayed me enough to give it a shot. I reached out to Verizon and they let me test drive one for a month. So how is it, really?
Part of what attracts me to the Moto 360 is the look. I don't want a calculator dork watch and I don't want whatever look Cupertino's offering is going for. The Moto 360 can easily be mistaken for a standard men's watch. The face is round and classic with a thin bezel. Bands are available in silicone, leather, and metal. Mine was made from Horween leather and over the course of the month already started to age beautifully.
The bezel was a hair too thick to fit under the sleeves on my button down shirts, but frankly that's a problem with pretty much every men's watch these days. The face itself is customizable via the Android Wear app. It comes with a number of faces (both analog and digital) and more are available for sale on Google Play.
The Moto 360 is pairs with your phone via Bluetooth. Setup was quick and easy with my DROID Turbo. You (thankfully) don't take calls through the watch, but there's plenty of functionality. First and foremost, notifications are sent to your wrist. The Moto 360 vibrates when a notification comes in and displays a little "peek notification" under your watch face. Swipe up to read more, right to dismiss, or left for more options. I generally keep my notifications to a minimum, so it wasn't too overwhelming.
It's also nice that you can silence your phone notifications while the watch is paired with your phone so one text isn't like high noon in the clock shop. You can use voice commands as well to do things like check the weather, search, or (more usefully) respond to texts. Google's voice recognition is quick and accurate. I had a much easier time responding to texts via the Moto 360 than my attempts through Moto Voice directly on my phone.
The most unexpectedly cool feature is a camera timer. Upon opening your phone's camera, the watch automatically turns into a shutter switch on a three-second timer, making it easy to take group photos or staged selfies at a distance.
As watches go, I found the Moto 360 to be surprisingly functional. Being able to change the face and customize colors is a great bonus. The screen saves battery by turning down/off when not in use, but pops quickly back to life when you turn your wrist over to look at it. One detriment to this is that you can't just quickly and discreetly glance down at your watch; you have to mean it. It's a small price to pay for an extended battery life.
On that note, battery life was solid. I got a little over a day before the low-battery settings kicked in (no more wrist-flipping to turn the face on), and made it just short of 48 hours before it finally died. Charging the Moto 360 is a clever combination of form and function. It charges wirelessly on a custom stand that sets the watchface on it's side. In that position while charging, the watch face rotates 90 degrees and displays a standard alarm clock.
Set your alarm (by voice or otherwise) and when it goes off, use the watch crown as your off button. It's a small thing, but very well thought out and impressive. While in the cradle, the watch charges quickly. Charging every night, I had no problems with the watch dying out on me, no matter how much I used it. The charging stand's cord is a standard Micro USB cord, so it's not even an extra cord to remember for travel as long as you're willing to charge your phone and watch at separate times.
In the end, the Moto 360 surpassed my expectations by providing a lot of convenience without the extra clutter of unused bells and whistles. It's functional, fashionable, and nothing like the Dick Tracy getup that comes to mind with the word "smartwatch." I'm going to be sad to send it back come Monday.
OnMilwaukee.com's senior developer Nick Barth has been a part of the team since 2008. After an 18-month stint in Portland, he returned to his hometown with a new love of food trucks, bike life, and simple and effective gadgetry. The self-proclaimed gear geek and denim addict now presents OnMilwaukee's #wewant series weekend mornings on WISN-12.