At Asus’ Computex 2015 booth, the company also offered a chance for us to take a closer look at its two new wearables, the ZenWatch 2 smartwatch and the VivoWatch fitness watch.
Arguably one of Asus’ more exciting announcements at Computex, the ZenWatch 2 is the successor to the original ZenWatch, which was one of the classiest-looking Android Wear devices released so far. The ZenWatch 2 builds upon the stylish ZenWatch, now offering a host of new premium straps and a “digital crown” of its own, which merely acts as a power button.
Unfortunately, the working models were all encased under a glass enclosure, while the ones available for the public to touch and feel weren’t switched on; due to Android Wear’s highly-personalised nature, an Asus rep at the area stated that the company was not allowed to turn the devices on.
Nevertheless, we were still able to spend some time with the actual watch – and just like the ZenWatch, the new ZenWatch 2 is still slimmer than the other Android Wear products in the market right now. We’re told that despite its slimness, the ZenWatch 2 will provide between 2-3 days of battery life, which is impressive. There’s also what Asus calls a “power bank for the watch”, which clamps magnetically to the bottom of the watch and adds an extra day of battery life while just adding an extra few millimetres of thickness.
Like Apple, Asus will focus on creating a series of stylish and premium straps to go with the ZenWatch 2. The default strap is a leather one, but there are a few other choices of leather straps which are suited to both men and women. There’s also a cool gunmetal grey metal link strap with a unique clasp, while another metal strap looks very similar to the Apple Watch’s Milanese loop strap.
To keep the watch thin, the ZenWatch does not come with features that Asus deems to be unnecessary, such as a camera or even a heart rate sensor. Asus also went for a practical choice by using a four-pin magnetic charger which has a USB connector at the other end, allowing it to be used with virtually any USB charger.
The ZenWatch 2 will not be available anytime soon, though. The Asus rep explained that the ZenWatch 2 will make an appearance at IFA in September, where more details will be given. When asked about the price, the Asus rep says that the ZenWatch 2 will be “priced the same or lower than the first ZenWatch,” which retailed for $199 (about RM750).
Asus also displayed another wearable at Computex 2015: the VivoWatch. Announced two months ago, the VivoWatch is a focused-built fitness watch similar to products from companies such as Garmin. It’s got a host of fitness-oriented features and sensors that the ZenWatch 2 does not have, but with less emphasis on style – which is just fine, since it isn’t designed to be that way.
The VivoWatch isn’t running on Android Wear, but instead on a proprietary platform that offers an impressive 10-day battery life. It’s not like there’s a big battery in there, too, since charging only takes 1-2 hours.
Inside, the VivoWatch is fitted with an optical heart rate sensor with VivoPulse technology, a 3-axis accelerometer, UV sensor, and a square 128 x 128 low-power, always-on display. The case is made from stainless steel, and being a fitness device, it has a rating of IP67 for dust and water resistance. This 50g watch also syncs with any Android or iOS device via Bluetooth 4.0 and the Asus HiVivo and HiVivo Lite apps, where you can manage your fitness and sleep data collected from the watch. Finally, the VivoWatch also uses standard 22mm watch straps, allowing you to change straps easily.
As for software, the VivoWatch looks to be a very simple and light UI, with the use of side and vertical swipe gestures. Each function is automatically activated when users swipe to the required screen; for instance a side swipe from the home screen will enter the “Pulse” screen, which will activate the heart rate sensor. Another swipe will trigger the UV sensor, while additional swipes will reveal information like steps taken, sleep hours, and a curious little feature called “Happiness Index”, which offers an indication of how you feel based on how much you’ve slept the previous night and how active you’ve been during the day.
Unlike the ZenWatch, the Asus VivoWatch has a price tag: at $149 (about RM560), it is $50 (about RM190) less than the ZenWatch 2, but it is likely that these two devices serve very different target markets. However, there are no official availability dates.