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Moto 360 Review FULL Review (Updated with lots of pics!)

The Moto 360 is easily the most attractive smartwatch in the current market.  Not only does it look and feel the most like an actual watch in comparison to its competition, but its design is simple, elegant, and beautiful.   From the stainless steel case, to the Horween leather band, and even the fancy packaging, this "watch" is the most impressive, and comfortable device that I've ever worn on my wrist.

Left: ipod Nano - Middle: Moto 360 - Right - Accutime standard Watch
In terms of size, the Moto 360 is comparable in size to many standard watches.   Next to my normal watch, its just slightly thicker, and actually feels lighter.  It's very close in size to Apple's ipod nano, but with a much bigger screen.  Speaking of that display, it's a 1.45" 320 x 290 backlit LCD display with a ppi of 205, and covered with Corning Gorilla glass 3.  The weight is a very light 49g, and itls rated at ip67 for water resistance.  It will survive the rain, and elements, maybe even an accidental shower, but do not take it swimming.  The watch bands are standard, and replaceable, provided that you get the correct size.  Some folks are successfully using the metal bands from the Pebble steel.  The black bar at the bottom of the display looks like an eyesore in pics, but in actual daily use, I did not find it distracting at all.  This was one of my original worries, and as many initial reviews have stated,  has become a non-issue.   Full specs are here.

The screen is big, and beautiful, with pictures displayed on it looking bright and colorful. Text is sharp and legible. The black levels look great.  Everyone who has seen this screen in person on my wrist has complimented about how great it looks, and even in direct sunlight, I can easily read any notifications that come in.

Make no mistake about it, the Moto 360 will draw attention to itself  when you wear it out in public.

The Moto 360 is just slightly thicker than a real watch or an ipod nano.
These may all be watches, but it's amazing how different they all are.
At the time of this review, I've used the watch daily for over two weeks.  Setting up the Moto 360 is very simple as you simply download the android wear app on your phone, pair the watch through it, and you're pretty much set.  There is also a Motorola Connect app that allows you a few extra options, such as customizing most of the seven *eleven* stock watch faces, *Update: The updated Motorola Connect app comes with eleven watch faces now, but technically it's more since they can now be customized, especially the "My Design" watch face.* and setting up your "wellness profile."   I paired my watch to my Google Nexus 5.

Your phone and watch will then be seamlessly connected via bluetooth with your chosen notifications popping up on your watch.  If that is one of your worries, then do not fear.  You do have total control over what notifications pop up on your watch screen.  Android wear is flexible enough to let you filter out what you do not want.

Android wear has flexible controls.

The Moto connect app adds flexibility.
The "My Design" face is customizable with backgrounds, watch hands, date, accent, and tick marks.

My customized watch face. 
The flexibility does have one limit being that it's an android only party at this time.  There is no option to pair your watch with iOS or Windows phone devices.  From past experience, I'd wager that this will change at some point, since Google historically has great support for iOS.  When it comes to Windows Phone, your best bet would be a 3rd party developer getting frustrated enough to develop an unofficial app similar to what happened with the Pebble watches.  Again, this is just an estimated guess from past experience since nothing has been officially announced by Google.  *Update* With the latest update, you know have the option to pair the Moto 360 directly to bluetooth headsets and speakers.

Outdoor visibility is great.
One concern that most people have regarding this watch is the battery life.  The bad news is that you will want and/or need to charge it daily.  Personally, I don't really find this to be much of a negative unless you plan to sleep and shower with your watch since it will charge to a full 100% in just over an hour on the included "wireless" (inductive) charger.  This means that you can wear it at work all day, go home, take the watch off, throw it on the charger, and by the time you get ready for your evening out, you will be back at 100% of a charge an hour (or less) later.   I work a 10 and a half hour day, and with the watch off the charger at 6:45am, I can easily still have a 20% charge at 7:00pm.  This is with the "ambient mode" on, which keeps the screen on most of the time.  If you turn "ambient mode" off, then the watch can easily be at 40 to 50% in that same 12 hour time frame.  This is with constant push notifications and checking of the time.   The screen will detect when you turn and lift your arm to view the time, and at that time, will light up (using the light sensor in the black bar on the bottom) enough for you to clearly see what is on your screen.  Depending on what mode you have selected, the screen will either go to sleep, or grow dim until you need to look at it again.  Overall, depending on what mode you're on and your usage, you can get anywhere between 14 to 24 hours on a single charge with heavy use.

The "wireless" Qi charger is simple to use and elegant.  Plus it charges the watch to 100% in just over an hour.

Want to take a selfie without actually having to hold your phone?  Android wear allows for that.
The types of notifications that I received were text messages, GPS directions, email, weather updates, music playback with album art and controls, Flipboard and Pulse reader updates, Instagram posts, etc.  Basically, anything that can show up in your phone status bar, can and will be pushed to your watch unless you specifically decide that you do not want it pushed.  On its own, the 360 can still track and count your steps, and monitor your heart rate.. *Update: Google has released "Google Fit" and Motorola has updated "Motorola Connect" with "Moto Body."  These apps, allow you the options to counts steps, check your heart rate, and know how many calories you have burned depending on your activity.  These apps also give you the option to save your information to the cloud.*  When connected to your phone, you can reply to text messages directly from the watch by talking to it and letting android transcribe the message for you.   If you don't mind looking like Dick Tracy, then this is the watch for you.  You can also perform Google searches, take notes, and set alarms and reminders.  All of these are powered by Google services such as Google Now, Tasks, Fit, ect.  One feature of note is the ability to use your watch as a remote camera shutter.  When opening the camera app on your phone, you can set it down somewhere, and then use your phone to take selfies, and snapshots.  When the onscreen button is pressed, you get a few seconds before your phone takes a pic.

Full screen text message notification

Birthday notification

Text with contact pic

Text is clear and very legible.
Step counter card
The built in Heart Rate monitor is fairly accurate. 
Flight notification

Use Google Wallet?  You'll also get notifications for it on your watch.
Holiday Reminders
When jogging while listening to music, I was also able to answer calls.  With my phone strapped to my arm, my Moto 360 vibrated and the watch provided me the option to swipe left or right to answer or deny the call.  It also displayed the contact picture in full screen along with the callers name, so that I could make my decision.  Once I accepted the call, the call was seamlessly transferred to my bluetooth stereo headset.  It was easy, intuitive, and most importantly, convenient.   When the call was over, my music (streamed from Google Music) simply resumed.

Full screen music playback screen

The pop up notification for music and other apps look great.
While I am on the topic of music playback, the Moto 360 is equipped with 4GB of memory, but at this time does not have a standalone music player.  I would not be surprised if at some point, one is added at the expense of battery life. *Update: With the latest update, the Moto 360 gained the ability to store and play music as a standalone music device.  You have to enable "Download to Android Wear" in the Google Music app, and then  as you pin songs and albums, they will transfer to your watch through bluetooth.  It's not fast, and it eats battery at an insane rate while transferring, so don't do this at the last minute before a trip.  You will see a music transfer screen.  Once done, you will have the option to listen to your music through your bluetooth headphones without your phone.*  Right now, I'm pleased with the current functionality.  My understanding is that everything about this product is 1.0 in terms of both software and hardware, and that being an early adopter sometimes comes with sacrifices.

Music downloading screen.

Music Downloading screen.

Traffic notification card.

Traffic notification card expanded.
GPS functionality worked seamlessly with Google maps, with cards proactively letting me know traffic conditions, and how long it would take me to get home.  Using navigation was a breeze.  Once I told either my watch or phone my destination, the watch then switched over to a map/navigation screen which buzzed every time that there was an upcoming change in path.  When driving, it's much quicker and safer to quickly glance at your wrist in front of you than to look down on your dashboard (where most peoples GPS screens are) to get your navigation instructions.

Up to this point, we've gone over the capabilities and physical attributes of this smartwatch.  "How is performance?" may be one of the questions on your mind.  The heart of the Moto 360 is a Ti Omap 3 solution, and it's not the newest or most power friendly chipset on the market.  As mentioned earlier however, battery life is more than acceptable considering this highly touted "handicap."  In day to day use, swiping through cards and apps is fluid and smooth.  The only time that you will notice lag and stutter is when waking up the watch from a deep sleep. This is especially noticeable if you use a 3rd party watch face since the ones in the Play stores are mostly "hacked" as there is no official watchface API in Android wear at this time.  Once I uninstalled the unofficial watch face, performance sped up again considerably.  It seems that when the watch is awake and everything is loaded in the 512mb of ram and in use, all apps work quickly and smoothly.  This was evident as at times I've simultaneously run the music player, heart rate monitor, step counter, Google fit, and text messaging without hiccups.  The touch screen works as expected, and swiping away notifications is easy and effective.

Voice controls are hit or miss depending on ambient noise.  Again, most of the issues with this occur when waking the watch from a sleep mode.  You do end up with some hilariously bad translations of your text messages.  Luckily, you can cancel and erase messages before they are sent.  In my unscientific percentage, I'd say that voice commands work well (even in noisy environments) about 65% of the time.  Voice dictation by itself is closer to working 90% of the time since your watch will already be awake.  Again, these are the growing pains of a 1.0 product in a fairly new category.  Your mileage may vary.

As for the most basic use:

Tap:  Takes you to Google now, another swipe down in this screen takes you to your "app drawer" & settings.

Tap and hold:  Change watch faces.

Swipe down from top of screen: Battery life, and Mute/Unmute notifications.

Swipe left to right:  Navigates through notification/app screens.

Swipe right to left, Go back or dismiss notification/app screens.

Swipe down to up:  Swipe through cards and notifications.

*Update: Swipe down on card notification:  Hide card without dismissing it. Swipe back up from the bottom of the screen to view the card.*


The Moto 360 is definitely a 1.0 product. If you are not normally an early adopter, then you would be wise to wait for the 2.0 version of this product.  However, if your expectations are realistic, then you will definitely be pleased should you choose to purchase.  For your $250, you get an elegant watch, timer, and fitness device that informs you of the weather, sets reminders, and takes voice dictation.  Android wear still has some growing to do, and Google is set to deliver additional functionality soon with the Android 5.0 Lollipop release, and Android wear 2.0.   My biggest gripe with Android wear as an OS is that I do not want everything to be voice controlled, and the settings/apps can be a hassle to get into sometimes.  Luckily, this being an Android product, installing wear mini launcher made this product even more of a pleasure to use.  Some folks out there have done things such as unlock the full android OS on the watch, run a fully playable NES emulator complete with a paired controller, and even boot up a somewhat functional Windows 95 up to the desktop.  It's certainly amazing stuff  that shows how powerful the hardware on your wrist is, but again, this is best used as an elegant watch with added functionality.

One interesting fact to note is not about the Moto 360, but about the battery life of your phone.  Although there is an always-on bluetooth connection between your phone and your watch, your battery life my seemingly improve since you will not need to power on your phone screen as much.

 If you are a watch aficionado, or a tech enthusiast, then by all means, buy this product.  To all others, try before you buy, but be warned, everyone that has seen this on my wrist definitely wants one.

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  1. Thanks, it was informative!



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