Android Wear launches, but not with a bang

The LG G Watch will launch next week, and the Samsung Gear Live soon after.  These are the first two Android Wear watches.  Which should you buy?

If the initial press reviews are anything to go by, the answer is neither.  Everyone seems to think the Moto 360 would be the best of the three launching this summer, but that Android Wear’s potential has yet to be fulfilled.

The Verge:

I like a lot of things about Android Wear, and a few things about the Gear Live and G Watch. I like that they’ve made me look at my phone less. They’re simple, inoffensive devices that do their jobs well. And at $199 and $229, respectively, they’re a relatively affordable way to get a first taste at our wearable future. If I were buying one today, I’d buy the Gear Live: I like the design, I like the screen. But neither current model inspires any attachment, any excitement, any reaction at all. They’re just empty vessels for Android Wear, not devices I’m proud to display on my arm. And that’s the wrong approach.

The Verge rates the Samsung Gear Live a paltry 6.8 and the LG G Watch a 6.6.

Engadget:

Android Wear has me more excited about the future of smartwatches than any other platform or device. It’s more solid than I expected in a first-gen product, and of the options on the market, it has the most opportunity for growth. Wear enjoys a universal user experience; it’s backed by a robust operating system with tons of user and developer support; and there’s buy-in from manufacturers…

For now, Wear is the best OS for Android users who are in the market for a smartwatch, but since these devices aren’t necessities, they’ll need to be more stylish and add more convenience to your life if they’re going to attract the average consumer. Unfortunately, the Gear Live and G Watch just don’t have what it takes for Wear to go mainstream, although I’m holding out hope for the Moto 360.

Engadget is as usual a little nicer than The Verge and gives the Gear Live a 73 while the LG G gets a 68.

Ars Technica:

Of the two smartwatches we’ve reviewed, the Gear Live is clearly better. Its screen is crisper and more colorful, it feels better to wear, and it looks better (something I can’t believe I’m writing about a Samsung watch). It has added hardware features. It’s better at springing to life when I bring it up to my face. It’s $30 cheaper. Its band is… well, it’s easy to replace.

What it fails at is making the smartwatch into a must-have device….Right now, though, these watches are like their predecessors in that their promise is greater than their real-world utility. I might miss a couple things about the Gear Live when I take it off my wrist and ship it back to Google, but it’s not going to be difficult to part with.

Like all the other publications, Ars Technica rates the Samsung contender as better.

Wall Street Journal:

While the Samsung is slightly better than the LG in terms of design and screen quality, it’s really like comparing the qualities of two bruised bananas. Both look like shrunken phones stuck to your wrist, rather than timeless accessories. Mr. Singleton says watches from Fossil and other traditional watchmakers are on the way. Motorola’s Moto 360, due out this summer, is also more attractive, with a round, albeit rather large, face.

The first smartwatches from Google’s platform are the smartest yet but buying one right now would be stupid. Not only are there more stylish Android Wear watches and improved software coming soon, but Apple is expected to release its own watch before the year’s end.

The WSJ came to the same conclusion as everyone else: the Samsung Gear Live is a bit better, but neither are must-have devices.  The potential is there but more time is required for a winning entry.  At the very least, the Moto 360 is expected to be markedly better.

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